Do you marry your relatives? Like cousins?

In pristine Africa, people were very careful about whom they were getting married to, and much of that is still there today. As a result of this, the families of potential spouses are usually well investigated, the one by the other, to ensure primarily that the man is not in any way consanguineously related to the woman, and that terrible taboos had not occurred in either family: suicide, murder, and incest, to name a few. As the inquisition into the backgrounds of the future spouses reveals, it was considered taboo for close relatives to get married to each other; cousins are in many Africa cultures considered too close for marriage and it does not normally happen.

Is there divorce in Africa?

Even though divorce has been in existence forever, comparatively speaking, it is not as rampant in Africa as opposed to other cultures where it is almost becoming an expected phase in marriage. Because marriages are between families and not just the two people getting married, a lot is done to ensure that the marriage will work before any commitments are made on the part of the families involved. Tshilemalema Mukenge is saying the same thing when he observes: Because marriage is important for society as a whole, mutual agreement between a man and a woman is not enough to make them husband and wife. Their union must be approved by society for it to become legitimate. In Congolese tradition, marriage is an alliance between the groom's family and the bride's family. In the past, the two families intervened quite early in the marriage process. Mental preparation ... was not the only form of parental involvement in the premarital stage. Family reputation and personal character were subject to scrutiny on both sides, especially when the two families lived in different villages and did not have enough prior knowledge of each other. Marriage would not be authorized until certain questions were satisfactorily answered. These included whether members of either family treated their spouses well and showed respect to their in-laws. They also asked about hereditary diseases. Depending on the ethnic group, concern for family reputation was extended to whether women in the bride's clan were known for being faithful to their husbands. Men of the groom's family were scrutinized for instances of spousal abuse. Men and women were also questioned about being quarrelsome, drunkards or thieves. Mutual investigation by the two families continued throughout the betrothal period. (119)

The result of such preparations towards marriage is that the divorce rate is low when compared to other cultures in which a spouse can more easily walk out on his or her family simply because he or she claims the love that used to be in the relationship is no longer there, or because he or she has fallen in love elsewhere, the children notwithstanding. Strange as it may be, African parents will easily sacrifice their lives by staying in a bad marriage for the sake of their children's welfare. Their hope is to work things out for the good of the children. A troubled marriage without children is more likely to end in divorce nowadays, but even then, not with the alacrity that is almost becoming the norm elsewhere.

Do Africans marry people from other races and cultures?

Today, yes, but this has not always been the case. In the past, and even in some cases today, Africans prefer staying close to their cultural roots, as getting married to persons from other races and cultures, it has been observed, often led to unnecessary marital tensions because of cultural differences.

Today, in any case, because of their exposure to, and their better understanding of other cultures, it is a more common trend for young African women and men to get married to whomever they prefer, his or her roots notwithstanding. The result is that there are many international marriages nowadays for Africans who visit or study overseas and return home with spouses from as far off as their quest for knowledge, money, or otherwise, took them.

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