The joy of every typical African woman is when her prospective in–laws come to finally pay her bride price. Bride price is payment in the form of money, property or other valuable asset that is made by or on behalf of a prospective husband to the bride’s family. Aside money, payment may come in forms like cattle, kola nuts, drinks, and goats among others. The custom of paying bride prices is largely allowed in Africa for that matter in Ghana.
The payment of a bride price is seen as a way of appreciating the bride’s family for good moral upbringing of their daughter. In another sense, it serves as a sign of the man’s commitment to take very good care of his soon to be wife. Although there is a difference in traditions in the African setting, bride price is generally seen as a symbolic act and a necessary part of upholding culture, rather than a purchase of the bride.
Amazing- Isn’t It! But amidst this beautiful culture lies hidden facts and an abuse of this ‘bride price’. The result of this abuse is child marriage. This canker has become part of a lot of African communities not excluding Ghana. The subject is not new to the average Ghanaian and as well to the ‘crème de la crème’. It is the desire of every girl to grow and become somebody special in future and settle down in a nuclear family setting where she gets that golden opportunity to nurture generations rising after her. However we live in an age where such dreams and even greater aspirations of girls are shattered when there is an exchange of their school fees with bride price.
Recent research has shown poverty as one of the many causes of such exchanges which eventually results in child marriage. Due to adverse economic hardships, parents instead of fighting for their girl children to have access to good and quality education would give their daughters off in marriage for a face value.
It is in this light that a fast growing not-for-profit organization known as Lintel Aid Ghana has decided to join the many global advocate organizations fighting against child marriage. Lintel Aid Ghana is of the view that the schools fees of these girls are far important than the bride prices being received on their behalf. Thus, the theme – ‘School Fees Not Bride Price’.
To say education is the thriving force behind the advancement of every society is no cliché. The make up of every female child goes beyond her physiological parts. Naturally, every girl child is endowed with a nurturing attitude. The ability to effect change and see to the continuous progress of the people around her is a natural gift. Therefore, when girls are given the luxury of quality and free education, it serves as a solid rock to propel them to higher heights which in turn brings about positive change in our societies.
The percentage rate of child marriage is higher in the rural areas as compared to the urban areas. On average, one out of five girls is married before their 18th birthday according to UNICEF. ‘Although there has been a decrease in child marriage rates in Ghana from 31.5 percent in 2008 to 27.2 percent in 2014’, a lot need to be done to stop child marriage.
In recent times, the minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Madam Otiko Afisa Djaba has called for a zero tolerance of child marriages not only in Ghana but Africa as a whole.
This is a clarion call to all of us to raise high our voices, our placards and every available resource in fighting against child marriage.
Ending child marriage preserves the girl’s childhood, promote her right to education, exposure to violence and abuse is reduced and most importantly it helps break the continuous cycle of poverty. Let’s advocate and push for opportunities and avenues to keep girls in school.
Let’s join hands in the fight against child marriage with the hashtag #SchoolFeesNotBridePrice #GubaInspires
Miss Nimat E. Tijani