Can young adults whose marital choices have been rejected by their parents elope?
This is very rare in Africa, since marriage is between families and not just the young man and woman. Nobody will readily give his or her son or daughter in marriage to a family that is problematic in any way whatsoever, unless there is evidence that the problem can easily be solved, or has nothing to do with the young people themselves. This is the case because in some families there are members who just love concocting baseless problems. For example, a relation may be making unreasonable demands to the groom's family as a prerequisite to his approving of the marriage; this might lead to an elopement. In the same vein, eloping means that the couple is just postponing their problems since to the two of them they may be married but not in the eyes of the said family member. Accordingly, the young couple will eventually have to return to their families to earn the blessings of their parents and in-laws if the reason for their elopement was authentic other than a parent or an in-law just being ridiculously uncooperative. Because of the problems this could cause in the young couple's lives, it is better for them to do all to persuade and win their parents' approval of the marriage to begin with, instead of doing something foolish like eloping. This notwithstanding, some parents' recalcitrance has forced their children to elope, and they could not careless.
Is having a new baby an important event in Africa
Having a new baby is a very big deal in most African cultures. It is the arrival of a new spirit into the family, and as such a very significant gift from the Supreme Being. As a result, a child is received into a family with a lot of pomp. Usually, after a child is born, there are different traditional rites that have to be performed, like the manner in which its umbilical cord is disposed of when it is finally detached from the child; there is also the naming ceremony, on which occasion the child is given his or her name. On a particular day, which is determined differently in different societies in Africa, but usually the eighth day, friends and family members alike assemble at the residence of the family with the newborn baby for the naming ceremony. The ceremony is usually accompanied by feasting, which is only surpassed by the feasting that occurs during a wedding or at the death of an elderly person blessed with many successful children. The family, friends, and relatives, eat, drink, and dance late into the night. The degree of the feasting is also influenced by a number of other factors such as whether or not it is the couple's first child, or their only child, their only son and so on. These different characteristics surrounding the new baby raise the "born-house," as the occasion is generally referred to, to a special degree. As John Reader rightly sums up in passing:
Children were precious, and the drive to reproduce became a central feature of African culture and social order. Woodcarvers celebrated the fecundity of the round-bellied and full-breasted female form; fertile young women were valued members of the community that prospective husbands must pay for; polygynous marriages gathered several childbearing women together in a single economic unit; women prayed for children at priapic shrines in secret groves; society measured a man's standing by the number of children he had produced. (253) Children are still the most precious "possession" of an African.
Is it true African women have their babies at home?
This happened in the traditional setting but with traditional midwives in attendance. It can happen today in the case where a hospital is far away. A woman could also have her baby at home if she misread certain symptoms and found out late that the child was virtually on its way. It is not a rule or the norm, however, that in Africa women must have their babies at home. It happens anywhere. In other parts of the world, away from Africa, women have had their babies at home or even in vehicles. In any case, today, where the woman wants her baby at home in Africa, a trained midwife is always present to assist in the process.