Inter ethnic marriage in Nigeria.
Story by Jama Onwubuariri.
Nigeria is one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world, with over 500 languages spoken. While this adds to the beauty of Nigeria, it also has created a tribal divide with its negative perceptions especially when individuals from different tribes fall in love and decide to get married. Some consider people of other tribes as inferior or even disadvantaged because of their minority or majority status. How have some handled the situation of inter-tribal marriage?
Let us meet Ajibade and Ekwutos Kalejaye. Ajibade is from Ondo State and speaks Yoruba while Ekwutos is from Abia State and speaks Igbo. Ajibade said, “I did not envisage that there will be a problem. However, after I informed my parents, they expressed shock, and wondered why I decided to marry someone from another tribe when there are persons from our tribe. My siblings and other relatives did not support the marriage.” Ekwutos father warned her of the possible consequences while her mother, older sister, and other relatives outrightly opposed the arrangement. They even arranged for someone of the same tribe to marry her. The Kalejayes have now been married for over 40 years. How did they cope? “We are not super humans,” says Ajibade, “we simply relied on [Jehovah] the originator of marriage.” Ekwutos also added, “I worked hard to apply Bible principles. I read the Bible based publications. The book that helped us was the book Making Your Family Life Happy.” After observing our family, my siblings now support their children’s marriage to persons from other tribes” Says Ajibade “Our children are married to spouses from different tribes, namely: Edo, Igbo and Isoko. We now have children and grandchildren who are from a mixed background.”
Steven and Esther Abada have been married for nearly 35 years. Stephen is Ikwere-speaking from Rivers State and Esther is from Bayelsa State and speaks the Ijaw language. Stephen said, “My friends and my boss told me that the Ijaw woman will not remain in the marriage.” Esther says “it is nearly 35 years and my colleagues are still surprised that I married an Ikwere-speaking husband. I know of only two persons from the Ijaw community who married from the Ikwere tribe.” She also expressed appreciation for members of her congregation, which is made up of persons of different tribes, all guided by the principle that God is not partial. One tool we will always appreciate is the book Making Your Family Life Happy. We agreed to read the book individually before we got married. As soon as we got married, we studied it together as a couple. It really set us on a good foundation.” “Two of our daughters are now married” says Stephen” and they are married to persons from different language groups, Igbo and Urhobo.”
Kingsley and Veronica Iornenge are much younger and newer in marriage, they were married November 27, 2021. Though both of them are from Benue State, Kingsley speaks the Tiv language and Veronica speaks the Igede language. Veronica says, “The advice I got was not to give attention to any man of Tiv extraction. One of my close relatives, said I should immediately discontinue the relationship, otherwise I will regret it later in life, she was really scared because of the superstitious belief that such marriage will lead to the first Tiv man, he knows, legally getting married to an Igede person.” What helps them to stay united and avoid superstition? Kingsley said, “Recently we both studied an article Successful Families-Team Work. We found it really helpful in working as a team.” We hope to continue to utilize these and many more resources available on jw.org.”
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