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IMPACT OF MODERNITY ON TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE SYSTEM: A STUDY OF UMUOGUDU-OSHIA COMMUNITY IN OHAUKWU LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF EBONYI STATE

IMPACT OF MODERNITY ON TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE SYSTEM: A STUDY OF UMUOGUDU-OSHIA COMMUNITY IN OHAUKWU LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF EBONYI STATE

Abstract

People have varying opinions on the impact of modernity on the traditional marriage system in Nigeria and Umuogudu-Oshia community in particular. This study examined the various ramifications of marriage as an institution in Umuogudu-Oshia community, with a view to revealing some of the changes that have taken place on it over the years as a result of modernity. Five research questions and three null hypotheses guided the study. Both random and stratified sampling techniques were adopted to select 160 respondents for the study. Data were collected from both primary and secondary sources. Structured questionnaire was used as the instrument for the collection of data. Data collected were analysed with descriptive and inferential statistics such as frequency, percentage, mean, variance, standard deviation and analysis of variance. Based on the results, about 60.4% of the respondents were males, while majority of them were not educated. Findings further indicated that monogamy has become the order of the day, high cost of living has increased bride wealth, western culture does influence the age at which girls/boys marry and that monetized economy has greatly influenced the traditional marriage pattern in Umuogudu-Oshia Community. The study also revealed that rate of divorce is on the increase because of increased infidelity due to societal exposure, disrespect among couples, wrong choice of spouses and parental influence. Result of the tested hypotheses showed that education, religion and modernization have changed the fate of Umuogudu-Oshia women positively. However, it was strongly recommended that women should endeavour to recognise their husbands as the head of their families as claim of equality with men can be disturbing and even detrimental to marriage.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1   Background of the Study

Transformation of nuptiality is an inalienable ingredient of modernity. Although changes in nuptiality regimes and union formation take different shapes in different societies, the demographic literature typically documents declining marriages rates and increase in non-marital cohabitation (Borbieva, 2012).

In societies with traditionally high prevalence of arranged marriages: that is marriages in which the decision to marry is not made by the groom and the bride, studies point to declining involvement  of parents in marriage decisions and arising share of marriages based on the grooms and the bride’s choice (Handrahan, 2004). These fundamental shifts in nuptiality regimes are said to be both products and engines of broader social and demographic changes, such as the rising status of women and declining fertility (Ghirmire and Axinn, 2013).

Guided by some hypotheses on the trends in marriage formation, some individuals feel that all that is past or ancient is good, while others believe that all that is new or modern is good. These are extreme view points where truth is not likely to reside. Thus, it is possible to make a synthesis of these two extremes and arrive at a mean or moderate position where truth is more likely to be found. It is from this perspective that I wish to study the impact of modernity on traditional marriage system in Umuogudu-Oshia Ngbo Community.

Four forms of marriage can be observed in Nigeria namely: Traditional marriage, Christian marriage, Statutory marriage and Islamic marriage. However I shall dwell extensively on the traditional marriage system and some changes brought by modernity on traditional marriage system in Umuogudu-Oshia Ngbo.

Traditional marriage varies from one ethnic group to another. Through marriage, new rights, roles, obligations and relationship are formed not only between their kits and kin. All known human societies have rules and regulations governing marriage and these must be conformed to in order to make it legal and acceptable in the society.

Child welfare is very paramount in Umuogudu-Oshia society. Every child born into this society passes through cultural and religious expenses. Choices of a marriage partner was restricted to ensure that it does not rest with the bride and groom alone but also involves the parents of those intending couples. The parents then insist on those personality traits that are acceptable to the society. The family unitary of the man or woman to be engaged in marriage was meticulously securitized. Age, more, often than not was not a barrier.

Marriage tradition in Umuogudu-Oshia developed from the aprons of the society, which is partly a spiritual bound and partly a randomized activity. My people have a strong respect for the institution of  marriage. Marriage brings honour, respect and recognition in the community.

Based on the custom and tradition of Umuogudu-Oshia Community, endogamy (marriage within one’s kinship group) is a taboo. Exogamy is the type of marriage accepted and practiced.

Traditional marriage institution in Umuogudu-Oshia has been altered by social changes and contact with the Western culture. Obviously, the coming of the Europeans with their Christian religion, formal education, industrialization and its consequent urbanization has affected every aspect of Nigerian culture and life style including the traditional value system.

Modernity has various impacts on traditional marriage system in Umuogudu-Oshia such as:

  1. Introduction of monetized economy that affects our marriage partners and practices as it engenders materialistic tendencies in all endeavours as well as makes cost of living very high.
  2. Introduction of formal education deny parents and kinsmen the opportunity and privilege of interfering with their marital affairs. Some youths in advance agree to marry each other without the consent of their parents.
  • Polygamy which has been a popular type of marriage in Umuogudu-Oshia is gradually giving way to monogamy due to modernity.
  1. Bride wealth which used to be made in terms of valued items as a token payment has changed due to Now bride wealth is very expensive and often paid in cash not just in the form of livestock and other valued items.

1.2   Statement of the Problem

Marriage is one of the major social institutions in the society because through it, individuals are legitimately recruited into society. Through marriage society appears procreation for continued existence of the society. In the study area, marriage is so valued because it is a mark of responsibility on the part of a man and a woman. Child born out of wedlock is not welcome as it is viewed as an abomination. Divorce, prostitution and deliberate abortion were rare. Women were highly submissive to their husbands.

In the contemporary times, everyday observation, modern literature, conversation and discussion reveal a fatal contrast of all these practices. The changes are pronounced and disastrous on the society thereby creating more problems than they are really solving. For instance due to selfishness which is accompanied with modern life, some parents demand for high bride wealth especially for               their educated daughters and make nonsense of the original aim of instituting the bride wealth and this has degenerated into a commodity exchange, a wife buying activity. The existence of modern life styles negatively influences the traditional marriage system with resultant marital problems such as separation, divorce and other social instabilities.

The foregoing only presents a partial picture of the pervasiveness of the impact of modernity on traditional marriage system in Umuogudu-Oshia Ngbo. Thus, there is dearth of literature on the impact of modernity on traditional marriage system in Umuogudu-Oshia Ngbo Community of Ebonyi State and this study is meant to bridge this existing information gap.

IMPACT OF MODERNITY ON TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE SYSTEM: A STUDY OF UMUOGUDU-OSHIA COMMUNITY IN OHAUKWU LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF EBONYI STATE

1.3   Research Questions

The following research questions will guide the    study.

  1. How does high bride wealth affect the traditional marriage system in Umuogudu-Oshia?
  2. How does modernity influence the rate of divorce in traditional marriage system?
  • How does high cost of wedding affect traditional marriage in the study area?
  1. How does co-habitation affect traditional marriage system in the study area?
  2. Are social welfare departments and customary courts relevant in resolving conflict in families?

1.4 Objectives of the Study

The main objective of this study is to examine the impact of modernity on the traditional marriage system in Umuogudu-Oshia Ngbo Community of Ebonyi State. The specific objectives are:

  1. To show the rich cultural heritage of Umuogudu-Oshia people by reviewing their traditional marriage system before their contact with the Europeans;
  2. To investigates some of the major changes that modernity has made over years on this institution with a view to finding their root causes;
  • To examine some of the conflicts/problems created by these changes;
  1. To expose and provide an insight into the vulnerability of our traditional marriage institution; and
  2. To give some useful suggestions on how these conflicts can be resolved.

1.5   Significance of the Study

Theoretically, this study will highlight the changes that have occurred in Umuogudu-Oshia traditional marriage system. The study would further identify the need for parents, individuals, groups, government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to join in fighting the ugly impact of modernity on traditional marriage system in the study area and beyond. This study will also help to establish permanent measures in handling marriage problems arising due to the impact of modernity in the study area.

It will furnish additional literature and serve as a reference material for students of Sociology/Anthropology Department, researchers, scholars, and other interest groups in a related study. Besides, the study will enable the government to formulate policies to check the incidence of divorce, separation, cohabitation, deliberate abortion, high bride wealth especially in Umuogudu-Oshia Community. Finally,

the study will expose the aspects of traditional marriage in Umuogudu-Oshia that will be preserved or promoted.

1.6 Definition of Concepts

IMPACT: This is a term which describes a strong impression or effect.

MARRIAGE: This is relationship between two or more consenting adults through which children may or may not arise provided this is recognized by the society thereby giving social recognition to the children of the marriage.

MODERNITY: A situation of accepting new method of doing things which is caused by change.

TRADTITION: This is a people’s beliefs, value rules and behavior patterns that are shared by a group and passed on from generation to generation as part of the socialization process.

TRADITIONALMARRIAGE SYSTEM: This is a type of marriage contracted in accordance with the traditional laws and customs this form of marriage differs from one community to another.

IMPACT OF MODERNITY ON TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE SYSTEM: A STUDY OF UMUOGUDU-OSHIA COMMUNITY IN OHAUKWU LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF EBONYI STATE

 

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