One of the most widely researched and spoken of things in this world is love. People have poured time into finding it, writing books about it, branded themselves experts in it, acted films, series and reality shows about, sang songs in all voices, tempos and genres and yet with all our effort, it is still not understood. Did I mention that people have preached about it? O, they have! Entire sermon series. Type love in any search engine and the results are endless. It is almost as if every opinion there is to share about love has been shared. Has that given us the magic bullet for success to love? No. Has that answered the questions we have about love? Nope, we instead have more about the subject. 

All those efforts have not left us with nothing. We have learned a few things: love exists, true love at least. There are those who think it is not for everyone and to that I say, ‘Count yourself out and not me.’ We know that love, when it is being experienced (given or received) is one of the best feelings in the world. Love heals. Love covers a multitude of sins. Love grows. Love can be found and love can be lost. 

Many people will agree with that second paragraph. They will agree with that but with some qualifications – that that kind of love can only exist between friends, or parents and children or God and His people or love of self by oneself – but not romantically between them and a person of interest. Why? They tried once or more times and got burned. They say they cannot take themselves through that ever again. Some believe they just keep meeting the wrong people. Some have gone as far as believing and professing that love just was not meant for them. 

Some argue that if we take away the fairytale and Western influences and romantic novels, love and romance, in our own African setting, is practical and achievable. 

Love in African communities is rich in cultural diversity and entrenched customs and practices that are as varied as the regions and peoples that identify as African. There are certain practices that are common to almost, if not all, African societies like bride price and dowry, matchmaking, and traditional unions. Bride price is where the groom’s family, out of respect and appreciation for their daughter, carries gifts to the bride’s family. Conversely, in some cultures, the gifts flow from the bride’s family to the groom’s. Some families employ professional matchmakers to find compatible mates based of given criteria. Families get involved on the premise that they have more experience to make more objective choices that serve both the individuals and the larger community. Polygamy, especially polygyny, was widely practiced and accepted but there have been a few necessary updates to society. 

Some of those updates have led to increased autonomy in partner choices which has led to cultural blends and given rise to romanticism – people want to marry for love, whatever that means to them. It is not that romance did not exist before, it was not at the forefront of marital unions and that has its arguments left another #WinterABC. Unions were for joining families in eternal bonds and procreation – – like I said, very practical and achievable. 

There exists a question when it comes to weddings: whether we are dressed in sackcloth and beads (cultural apparel) presided over by the elders in the presence of families or in a dress and suit with an officiating Priest, aren’t they both traditional ceremonies (native to their regions)? 

If no, why?

If yes, why is one esteemed above the other? 

One is considered traditional and the other modern. By virtue of those word-choices, traditional has connotations of backward, ancient, et al to mean that the traditional needs the legs of the modern to stand. Let that swirl in your mind a little and get back to me with your thoughts. 

Many of us who have heard many stories of failed love attemptsand experienced some for ourselves are among those who believe that maybe what we imagine to be true love is picky. What is unknown to us is the criteria – what’s the basis of picking others over us? What sacrifice must we make to be considered? Whose blood must we spill to appease the gods of true love? As those questions and more linger, should we revert to the traditional and practical former ways in which we are tools to amalgamate nations of peoples and add to their population? That is good and would be an option except for one not-so-slight problem – we have seen and have known the elements of true love which were ignored in times past for those practical benefits they preach. Now, we want it all because we can have it all. Good is not good when better is around the corner.