Young Lady Africa
This brief discussion is meant to shed light into the ‘mindset’ of a young lady in contemporary Africa entering womanhood. Obviously, we would not attempt to write this blog without the help of some strong African diasporian women here in Boston, with their invaluable help we have been able to write this insightful blog. Enjoy!
For this blog, we are envisioning a young lady from the age of about 21 to 32 years of age. This young woman is most likely in her last years of university and living with her parents when not in school. She is energetic and full of life. She is ready to make her stamp on this world. As mentioned in previous blogs education is extremely important and women are afforded the same strong education as men in most contemporary African households. Many are pushed by their parents to strive for excellence which means worthwhile degrees in medicine, law or engineering etc.
Personal life is fun, social and relatively innocent. Living with the parents helps to maintain this innocence as long as possible. With aid from the older women in the family she is taught the basics of life, taking care of a home, children and husband as well as balancing her career. Being exposed to her father also helps the young women to learn the value of male influence in the family i.e. not to see said male influence as domination and more like a division of duties where the character traits are assigned corresponding tasks. There is a recognition that gender roles do play a sizable part in a happy marital home.
Once out of university, the family utilizes its resources to obtain our young lady a suitable job where she is expected to go as far as she can, given she has made provision in her future life to be a strong mother and wife as well. She is encouraged to socialize within the highest class of people possible, growing and learning the ways of the world with a careful and watchful eye of her family there to guide and advise. It is still customary for a girl to move from her father’s house to her marital home. Women who live single outside of the family home, rightfully or wrongfully, are seen as being able to entertain a more promiscuous lifestyle. However, many women still do live singly exploring their young womanhood in more western ways if they can afford it. Africa is very good in that regard, if you can struggle to achieve male or female, you will be greatly respected.
Once a lady reaches her mid-twenties, the search for a mate is usually on, if not already concluded. The general idea is will my ‘Father’ approve of my proposed husband. Which inherently is guided by the basic principle’ will this potential husband be able to provide an equal or better lifestyle that she enjoys at her family home presently. While there are instances where husbands are rejected by the father, for the vast majority of cases, husbands are approved. Young husbands are expected to learn and take advice from their father in laws to be as one day he will manage the legacy of both joining families.
While finances and personal goals are important these are not the only parameters considered by the families when a couple wants to wed. As family legacy, educational levels, health concerns, family prestige and achievements must also be considered. While tribal and religious obstacles are still occurring in contemporary African homes, there is a growing acceptance of ‘breaking of these barriers’ in marriage. Marriage is viewed multi-generationally and also as a ‘joining of families’ not just the 2 individuals getting married.
The early marriage is a time of great adjustment for the young lady. Not only is she now having to ‘finally’ apply the adjustments to her personal and career goals but also take care of her own home and husband for the first time. The African culture is well equipped to aid her in this process. With her mother and other strong female elder family, friend and confidants there to advise and help wherever they can. A ‘good’ contemporary African husband is expected to ensure as a man, that this adjustment is a s smooth and healthy as possible. His preparations made prior marriage to the marriage will be tested at this time. He is the one who went to ask someone for their daughter so he is expected to take care of her security in the marriage. This means not only providing shelter and other life amenities but also funds to aid his new wife in securing a business or even childcare so she may continue with her career. While our young lady is expected to be the main caretaker of the household, contemporary African husbands are expected to do their part as well in the household and child rearing duties while still maintaining the ‘bread winner status’ in the house hold.
A new wife can be expected to be treated and nurtured by her husband as the queen of his empire. While the common view is that women are ‘second class’ citizens in Africa. While in some less educated quarters this is true in the contemporary African culture this idea couldn’t be farther from the truth. It is often the practice in Africa that a mans masculinity and manhood are judged based on how well his wife is cared for. The universal adage ‘HAPPY WIFE , HAPPY LIFE!’ applies. If the wife and children are well kept and happy then the husband can be dressed in rags and still be given the respect of a king.
If the husband is ‘performing’ well, the wife usually has no issue with ‘ALLOWING’ him to lead the family. The word ‘ALLOW’ is used on purpose because contrary to popular belief while the man is seen as the head of the family, everyone knows that a good wife indirectly runs ‘the show’. Behind every strong man is a strong woman is definitely what we in African contemporary culture believe in. The union of man and wife in marriage is a team with a team leader the man but with he is only a representative of the family shaped and guided by the woman. Every strong woman knows and accepts this and like I said earlier ALLOWS her husband to lead often giving him the utmost respect while receiving the utmost honor for her sacrifice in return. She and also the husband, are definitely not weaker but because of her sacrifice, way stronger as a unit. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
After some years to ‘enjoy themselves’ as husband and wife, the young couple are now expected to start a family. The child birthing stage usually is a 2-4 year stage, depending on how many children the couple is intending to have. The children are usually spaced 2 years apart for them to be close in age to enjoy their childhood together. The first child of course is usually the most difficult because of the inexperience of the young couple. Once again the cultural practice of elders stepping in is observed. The mother of our young lady can spend months in the couples home, helping her daughter take care of the newborn. Simultaneously, helping and teaching her what she needs to know and making the adjustment from just taking care of her home and husband but also now a child.
The growth of our young lady from a scholar to a young mom is not an easy one but a rewarding one as now she enjoys a healthy home to raise her family in, a husband to love and grow together with and beautiful children to raise, love and guide. She still enjoys her business/career aspirations and no matter how curtailed those aspirations may be due to her added responsibilities, her sacrifices are appreciated and rewarded in priceless ways nonetheless.
While this brief insight is an ideal scenario and of course we have outcomes that vary in success in terms of marriage quality and duration i.e. people do get divorced or abused despite all the cultural practices, we should look at the above process as guidelines to follow as much as possible. These guidelines are intended to result in strong, healthy and stable environment for families to thrive. We would argue that while successful marriage isn’t guaranteed, this general formula offers the tried and proven ‘best chance’ for us in the African diaspora to build a community of strong families.
Thank you and God bless!!!
P.S. This blog had input from a good friend of the Afrimerican Culture Initiative Organization Zaina Jajah, she will be speaking at the community blog meeting on the 24th of October, 2017. See you there!!! If you cant make it feel free to leave your comments below!!!