The deteriorating economy in Nigeria is leading to outrageous marriage lists and putting pressure on suitors. In the past, grooms had the opportunity to negotiate the dowry list, but now families are maximizing the opportunity to recover expenses or improve their financial situation. Dowry lists are expanding to include items unrelated to traditional marriage customs, such as generators, refrigerators, motorbikes, bundles of zinc, and wheelbarrows. The economic situation has also led to an increase in bride prices, making it difficult for young men to afford marriage.
One groom shared his experience of having an electric generator included in the dowry list, which he was not allowed to negotiate. The bride price was also exorbitant, and he believes that such demands contribute to women being unmarried and single motherhood. Marriage counselors and some community leaders criticize the inclusion of luxury items and the devaluation of women’s worth in marriage. They argue that dowry lists should reflect cultural values and not be altered to include unnecessary items.
However, others argue that the increase in bride price and inclusion of luxury items in dowry lists is a reflection of current economic realities. They believe that as the cost of goods and services rises, it is reasonable for marriage rites to adapt accordingly. Traditional items that were once included may no longer be relevant or affordable, and new items are being added instead. While some negotiation may still occur, families expect suitors to meet their demands within reason.
In summary, the worsening economy is influencing the contents of marriage lists, with families trying to make up for financial losses or improve their standard of living. The debate continues on whether these changes are justifiable or if they devalue the significance of marriage and women’s worth.