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Why We Must Stop This Dowry Payment Madness (And How I Overcame It)

Dowry should bind families together, not tear them apart.

I must confess that I am so perturbed by the excesses and levels of greed perpetrated in the name of dowry payment. Who bewitched us, the human beings?

I agree, dowry payment in itself is a noble process. But I think we've vilified and demonized it till it has become a dreadful venture.

Late last year, a young man was reported to have fled off a dowry negotiation meeting in Embu county, after the amount of dowry (commonly ‘baptized’ bride price) he was to pay was tabled.


That was marriage killed even before it began!

In fact the Embu Deputy governor is on record asking parents to lower dowry demands to encourage young people into marriage. It’s that serious that the government has to come in.

In another occasion, behind a camera capturing this dowry negotiation proceedings, I got a rare opportunity to be a witness in the roasting room. If you ever faced those uncles and aunties, you know it’s a roasting room, where the groom is grilled as whoever accompanied him receives lighter burns.

I witnessed people sweat. There were harsh exchanges. The room grew unbearable. One elder, I think perceiving a fight was eminent, asked the groom’s side to step out and each team re-discuss and refocus. 

This was all because the bride’s side placed a ridiculous quote that the groom’s people declined saying they couldn’t raise such a dowry. 

The content on a hand written paper included among others, the equivalent quotes of the bride’s education fees, fines to cover the pain the parents and ‘relatives’ went through to bring up such a precious woman and the appreciation for the fact that they are offering an already working bride. The totals came to something slightly over Ksh 2,000,000. Yep, A whooping 2M! Total madness!

So the fight of words began.

I was presented with free cinema and I could only watch, with my record button on of course. 

Luckily this young man didn’t ran away, but the in-laws didn’t get to agree, thus the negotiations were extended to another date.

I wondered, “Is this how it’s meant to be? Something needed to change, urgently. I actually remember documenting my frustrations in this very blog in my article “Want to suffer? Just do it right the way”.

Dowry Payment vs Gift of honor

This incident really got me troubled. I guess because I hate seeing a young person in unnecessary trouble.

I sought to understand where we got this madness from. One of the oldest bride price I could trace was the one Abraham’s servant paid for Isaac’s wife, Rebekah. The story recorded in Genesis 24 shows that the servant willingly gave GIFTS to Rebekah’s people. It was not planed, there were no fights, leave a lone a meeting to decide how much to pay.

All along, dowry has been just but a gift to appreciate the bride’s parents for bringing up a wife for you. It’s us who’ve turned it into exorbitant affairs.

Why this forced payment thing must die

After witnessing the poor young man get grilled in the name of getting married and understanding what the Bible says of bride prize, I realized this discourse is more than just feeding the greed of the uncles and aunties.

You see, the culmination of the whole event makes settling down in marriage such a difficult journey. 

How many young men are traumatized by the mention of the word dowry? How many have missed the blessing of their parents by moving in to live together without the parents’ consent, in fear of dowry payment grilling? Isn’t this blessing fundamental for marriage survival?

Listen, present dowry payment system is an evil spirit that has come to stop successful marriage from taking place.

Marriage brings two families together. It should be a source of warmth, friendship, and strengthened relationship.

But is that the case?

Nope! The initiation of this fundamental process is soiled by fights and bitter exchanges. In fact most men view their wives as expensive commodity they acquired. How do you expect love and respect to blossom in such an environment? 

There are no warm relationships created. To a man’s side, in-laws are enemies who wanted to make a killing from us. To the bride’s side in-laws are weak poor guys who didn’t pay up what we asked. 
I stepped up a spiritual fight.

When all this was happening, I had not even met my wife. But I knew sooner I was to sit on the very seat that was too hot for many young men. 
I knew I had one way out, start killing this spirit by prayer, at least it had not to operate on my line of marriage.

I made serious prayers asking God that when I get to my in-laws, may my pride price process resemble what I read in the Holy Book. 

God is a listening God! He granted my prayer!

As a matter of fact, I negotiated my dowry with my father in law. No, it was not a negotiation, I presented my GIFT. And it was a sitting of just five people: My dear father in-law, my wife’s elder brother, one uncle from my wife’s place, elderly friend who spoke on my behalf and I. 

I strongly believe this didn’t just happen. I strongly believe there were roots that were uprooted while I was in prayer. 

I detested the process and decided to fight it. Through this, God helped, (or should I say saved me?) from this cruel culture.

And you know what, my parents-in-law make part of the best friends I have. They allowed us to be a blessing to them without squeezing the last blood out of our hearts, they blessed and released us with love. 

Our families created a bond that cannot be broken. The other day my parents visited my wive’s parents and I hear they had a wonderful time together. This is what we need! This is what should be happening to all families!

When I was praying for my case, I asked God to extend the same grace to every young man who was on my bridal line. I’m watching and praying.

One of them is marrying this year and he recently visited his parents-in-law to be. He told me he’s very much happy with the progress. 

I’m glad this discussion is taking a wave such that it’s catching the attention of government officials. I am optimistic.

Give a good gift

This is what I read in Genesis 24:53:

Then the servant brought out jewelry of silver, jewelry of gold, and clothing, and gave them to Rebekah. He also gave precious things to her brother and to her mother.

Just look at the description of the gifts the servant gave! Precious things!

Allowance to freely decide your pride price should not be and must never be a loop hole to avoiding gifting the pride's parents or giving anything way below your capability.

When you’re favoured and allowed the rare opportunity to give a gift as opposed to paying dowry, kindly see to it that you give your best as the Lord as prospered you. There is no gauge mark, no one should measure it for you; it should be what you feel can be a fair appreciation to the bride’s parents.

Jacob didn’t possess precious gift when he was proposing for Rachel; all he had was physical energy. Thus he tells Laban, "I will serve you seven years for Rachel your younger daughter."

(You see I am not the first one to discuss dowry directly with my father in law; Jacob did it, in fact, a lone.)

Jacob could have decided to work for 1 or 2 years! But he dedicated himselve to work for seven years! It’s like taking your sum earning (not savings, earnings!) for 7 years as a pride price! That’s quite a precious gift.

A point to note from the above 2 examples

You might have realized in the examples I gave above, the gifts were given directly to the bride’s first family. There were no uncles colluding with the process or aunties demanding their share.

Abraham’s servant gifted Rebekah’s brothers and mother. I’ve never understood why Bethuel, the father is not in the picture. I suppose he had passed on. But the point is the gifts were not for the extended family.

The same applies to Jacob: He worked directly for Laban. 

Then love did override the then wealth status. If Jacob, who became the father of the nation of Israel, lived in the 21st century, he could have not been a worthy candidate for marriage. Forget about the blessing galore he received from his father. We would demand to know what touchable wealth he had.

Conclusion

I understand this is big fight I am forwarding but we’re not going to relent until we get things in order. But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve heard of many incidents of young men having either allowed to give a gift without any grilling or allowed to take a wife without paying anything at all – which I don’t fully agree with; it’s a blessing to appreciate parents. 

My first born is a girl and blessed is the man who’ll marry her; I’m not going to drive him crazy making a fortune out of him. All I’ll demand is he be God fearing and a man of character. For the Pride price, he’ll decide by himself…and I know many people with this very same spirit. My children’s generation is surely blessed!

I believe if you reading this decide to join me in this kind of thinking we’ll have an impact soon. If you have a daughter, allow your son-in-law to decide on the pride price. If you have a sister, try talk to your parents to go easy when time for dowry payment comes. 

Over all, let’s pray that Godly love and apostolic doctrine w invade our people. 

Let’s beware lest anyone cheat us “through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.” 

This way we’ll change the course of things.

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