Celebrity Column: Mama Zimbi talks about the essence of marriage
As an African, I believe that the social life of an individual is in four major stages, and each stage has its own rites of passage or ceremony. These stages are birth, puberty, marriage and death.
The ceremonies associated with these stages are Naming Ceremony, Puberty Rites, Marriage Ceremony and Funeral Ceremony. The essence and spiritual significance of these stages go a long way to strengthen and reinforce our social order, values, integration and solidarity.
I am not a lawyer, but I know that in the eyes of the law, marriage is a contract whereby a man and a woman agree to enter into a union or partnership for life for their mutual benefit, to provide each other with companionship, sexual gratification, economic help, to procreate, to reproduce and raise children if any comes out of the union. But there is no marriage when there is no consummation, since without bodily union or sexual intercourse after the formal marriage ceremony or rites, the marriage is incomplete.
This also means that when a man who lives in abroad asks his family to come and perform the marriage rites of a woman who lives in Ghana for him, the marriage is incomplete until they physically meet and have sex. Not any type of sex like oral sex, breast, thigh, anal or phone sex but real and traditionally accepted vagina and penis intercourse. The question that the first sexual act among married couples should be necessarily be an unprotected sex is neither here nor there.
The formal marriage ceremony or rites is the event, action, covenant, or proclamation witnessed by both families in our culture that is recognized as declaring a man and woman to be married. Unfortunately, in Ghana, we have 3 forms of marriages; Customary Marriage, Mohammedan or Muslim Marriage, Christian Marriage or Marriage by Ordinance. The Customary Marriage which is also licensed under the Law is what many term as Engagement Ceremony.
Unfortunately, most people who opt for the Ordinance Marriage do the Customary Marriage as well. In other words, they marry twice. So, marriage largely depends on process and form of the choice of marriage you make. The Mohammedan Marriage was influenced by the Muslim religion. The Marriage by Ordinance was introduced into our society by our British colonial masters. But the Mohammedan marriage and the Marriage by Ordinance have similarities in registration under the Laws of Ghana.
Knocking or betrothal which is the act of the man and his family presenting a bottle or two of drinks to the woman’s family showing interest in marrying the woman is not marriage. The Knocking or betrothal which has been misrepresented by some religious doctrines in Ghana as our traditional Engagement Ceremony is a promise to marry and it also provides confidence during the period of time in the relationship between the marriage proposal and the marriage ceremony.
We must understand that marriage is a decision making journey which can be influenced by love, and which you must be convinced about the person you are travelling the journey of marriage with.
Which form of marriage have you chosen or intend to choose? Think about it. Medaase (meaning Thank You).