By Obinna Chukwuezie
According to cultural marriage historians, there were evidences that the Tivs (an ethnic group predominantly in Benue state, North Central-Nigeria) and to some extent the Beroms (an ethnic group predominantly in Plateau state, Nigeria) had a cultural practice which could best be described as marriage-by-capture. In these cases, a young man and his friends will just waylay a girl and in that process she is carried off against her wish to the house of the man who wishes to marry her. Thereafter, negotiations with her family will take place and the rest is history.
Anyway, this is not my concern today as it is doubtful if the above cultural practices exist today in those societies. However, what makes it interesting is the unfolding dimension it has taken in present times. Indeed, the story has changed the other way round, that is, the men no longer capture the women as history recorded. It is the women who do the capturing. May be the men taught them and they have mastered the art and craft of capturing in the most dramatic manner.
Life abhors vacuum, “it is either the men are capturing the women or the women capturing the men” so said a colleague of mine, Chichi. I don’t know which is better. However, looking at it from the African viewpoint could be quite instructive:
If you are a man and you are married, you are not as vulnerable as unmarried men. If you are unmarried and blessed with good looks, good education, good height, good physique, wealth and any other physical attribute, it will take a lot of wit to withstand the schemes of would-be-capturers.
Even if you do not have any of the above attributes, you are still a potential victim or prey to the capturers. A lady told me recently in commercial bus that “husband na husband, what matters most is that you are married, even if he is under-age or over-age, even if he comes from another planet, even if you are not compatible, even if you don’t love him; no matter how the marriage was contracted.” She went further to “lecture” me that our society expects a woman to be married at some point, failure to which she begins to lose her respect and regard. Of all I could understood from her lecture is that if not for societal expectation, the desperation to answer “wife” would not assume these frightening dimension.
Imagine, in my very eyes, an unmarried lady was telling a married lady “you are very selfish, your husband is too good to be enjoyed by you alone. I must share him with you by all means.” I do know how to explain this somewhat weird situation. Other passers-by like me were also dumb-founded. An obviously visibly angry woman referred me to the Bible in Isaiah 4:1 and this is what I saw:
“In that day seven women will hold one man and say, we will eat our own food and provide our own clothes; only let us be called by your name. Take away our disgrace”
After reading the passage, I became more eager to understand the situation. Out of curiosity, I began to record such cases which you will find interesting to read here.
Now let me share some stories with you: A lady was dating a man for nine years and at some point, the man discovered that he could not continue with the lady for reasons best known to him. So he summoned the girlfriend to a crucial meeting where he broke the sad news to her. Unknowingly to him, the girl was in custody of all his certificates. So after he broke the news, the girl kept quiet for a while and stood up to leave the man’s house. Now, at the door post, she turned back and asked the ex-boyfriend to follow her outside which the man reluctantly did. In the presence of on-lookers, the girl brought out all the ex-boyfriend’s certificate and as in the full glare of the man, the lady initiated the process of tearing them into shreds.
In a loud voice, the ex-boyfriend knelt down and pleaded with the girl not to destroy his certificates. Other neighbours joined and the lady declined, and explained to them that she want to teach the ex-boyfriend a “lesson of his lifetime.” Seeing that the lady is bent on destroying his certificates, the man asked the lady “what do I do to make you change your mind?” The lady answered, “simple; just come and sign an undertaken that you will NEVER leave me.” In order to save his hard-earned documents, the man signed the undertaken. He took a copy of the undertaking while the lady took the original. In the end, she returned the certificate to him and they continued the relationship where they stopped.
In another development, a lady took her boyfriend to take an oath of eternal allegiance before a notorious shrine in Nigeria when he discovered that the man was about to jilt him. Information reaching me showed that the man agreed because the girl has been the sole financier of the relationship. I sought to know the implication of breach of such oath, and the chief priest of the shrine told me is death.
Some girls are also known to have mastered the art of adding a “love potion” or “remote control” to their boyfriend’s meal in order to influence their boyfriend to take them to the alter or any other platform recognized under the Nigeria law. The remote control comes in different categories, some are administered on the men in such manner that whatever the lady demanded, the man cannot say no. Some are in handkerchiefs, make-ups, perfumes among others.
I was recently told of a situation where a lady threatened to assassinate the man if he did not marry her. According to her, “is either me of you are dead!” Because the man wanted his dear live, he went to pay the girl’s bride price. Indeed, men are under attack or siege by their hitherto friendly folks. It has become a dreaded thing to quit a relationship, even a relationship that those involved are getting to know themselves. “Husband by fire or force” as my friend Udoh, puts it.
Again, men are captured again through pregnancy. In this case, the girl moves into the man’s apartment permanently with her belongings and assume the wife position even without any formalities. Such cases are more common than earlier-mentioned cases.
Just last week, another twist was added to it: a man was kidnapped by his girlfriend. The police searched all over the place, adverts were placed on the newspapers and on the internet but all to no avail. Then after a week of futile search for the man, the family placed a ransom for whoever knows the whereabouts of their only son. The ransom read thus: “whoever finds our son, whatever your demand we shall meet it.” It was then that his erstwhile girlfriend offered information of the man’s whereabouts on the grounds that the man will go and pay her bride price within two weeks of his release.
Since they had made the promise, the man was released, the ransom has been paid. But there is a problem here: The police has arrested and charged her for kidnapping. She pleaded guilty and explained the reasons behind her action:
“My Lord, I am not getting younger and my younger sisters are all married. I have served as chief bridesmaid to many of my friends and I am beginning to get ashamed of myself. I waited for my boyfriend to take me to alter for over five years, but the young man has been indifferent, so I had to “fast forward” the process. In fact, I gave myself deadline, and this option (kidnapping) was the smartest way to achieve that.”
I am still following the case, but before I continue let me share an incident during my NYSC days in Taraba state, while we were at the orientation camp where a fellow male corper whose girlfriend lives in Lagos called the male corper one fateful evening after we had concluded our parade. At some point, the guy’s voice was rising above conversational level as he was discussing on the phone with his girlfriend. Now, our attention was drawn to the drama. The boy shouted “I love you” three times and created a scene. When the guy hanged up, he was sweating profusely; I accosted him to know why he shouted as he did. He told me that he was under pressure from his girlfriend to shout it to show that he was not hanging out with another girl.
My friend who is a comedian told me recently that he worshipped on a Sunday service in one of the popular churches in Nigeria which has large followership. He told me that he sat beside many ladies who are obviously not married. At some point, the pastor asked the congregation close their eyes to ask God in low tones what they desired from Him. My friend being who he is, tip-toed beside the ladies and all he heard they asked God was for husband. So he literally assumed that most unmarried ladies go to church for divine intervention in the area of husband. I disputed it with him because I know many girls who genuinely turn down suitors and genuinely go to church.
Interestingly, my friend attended the service with his girlfriend and they sat at the same place. I asked the girlfriend why she sat closely to my friend. She told me that the previous Sunday, a lady was flaunting herself round her boyfriend, at some point, the lady started dangling a car key suggesting she is financially buoyant and that her boyfriend need not spend anything.
In the workplace, capturing continues. Female bosses frustrate the subordinate male staff who refuses to be captured. Those who are smart use the power of gifts to break the man’s resistance.
I have seen cases when ladies committed suicide because they could not capture or their trap missed the target.
Justifying their desperation to answer “wife”, some ladies told me that “men cannot be trusted”, it’s only that method that works for them. There are those whose jobs is to help ladies facilitate their capturing, they are the mallams, prophets, spiritualists, marriage psychologists and cousellors. In fact, it’s a lucrative business in Nigeria, as one cannot contend with the customers. I heard that some of the facilitators will first “sleep” with the girl before helping her to “capture.” Also, I heard of a school of “CAPTURING MADE EASY.”
There is a popular saying in Nigeria that “the way to a man’s heart is his belly.” I do not think it works for all men. Again, I do not think, sex gets a man’s heart these days either. Being nice, generous and prayers might work. However, let me give you an idea that would make capturing easier, just get get deely interested in what interests your potential victim-his vision, his passion, and drive among others. I think these methods of capturing are more civilized than being coercive. Better still, allow relationship to run its natural course and not make it a do-or-die affair.
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ing rampant and if nothing is done to stem the tide, then more “marriages” might be chaotic. Come to think of it, is that how those girls’ mothers captured their husbands?
Well, if you have been captured or being captured, congratulations! As for me, I refused to be captured at least for now. See you on the other side when I’m captured…ha ha ha.