Selling your daughter to the highest bidder

Home Away from Home with Abi Adeboyejo Email: Twitter: @abihafh

HAFH2A year ago a friend of mine, after having lived in the UK for 22 years since the age of 15, decided to get married. Because she was already considered a dried-up spinster, we didn’t think there’d be any resistance or objection from her family. Truth be told, she could do better than the man-about town she had chosen to marry but I could hardly tell her to keep looking for Mr Right since she claimed to have been ready for marriage since she was 20. I suppose 17 year search dulled her perception because apart from this man’s apparent wealth, he really wasn’t all that.

Both my friend and her man went to Nigeria for the introduction and engagement ceremonies. In fact, only my friend made it to Nigeria because some emergency came up and her man was unable to travel to Ibadan. Instead, he got his brother to stand in for him. Call me fussy, but I thought that was an odd arrangement and told her so. What were the legal and moral implications of such a ceremony? Did it mean she, in fact, married the brother? Could he demand conjugal rights or was the marriage just a contract which anyone could enter on another’s behalf?

Anyway, my friend and her family didn’t care about the legality of the ceremonies because her fiancé’s family threw a very lavish party and spent a fortune impressing all the guests, including my friend and her family. I heard the party was the talk of Ibadan for weeks after the event. The pictures on Facebook were testament to the opulence of the occasion. But remember the groom wasn’t in attendance!

After my friend returned to London, we thought she would move into her “husband’s” nice big house in Abbey Wood, but instead she told us that he was  re-decorating and that it would be a  few months before the house was ready for habitation. What no one knew was that her new husband did not own the house. He had been renting the house from a friend and had been ejected when the house was re-possessed by the bank. He was squatting with another friend while trying to find another rented property. He had no furniture or any household appliance because his former lodgings came fully furnished.  Also, the emergency that stopped him from going to Nigeria for his traditional wedding was none other than the birth of his second son by an ex-girlfriend.

When all of this came to light a few months ago, it was quite a scandal in our tight little circle of friends. We all had differing opinions on the issue. One school of thought (of which I belonged) believed that this man was shady and untruthful and probably had a lot more skeletons in his cupboard than his wife knew. As far as we were concerned, they weren’t really married anyway so she could leave him and get on with her life.  Other friends thought that although the man should have told his wife that he was expecting a second child from an ex-girlfriend, it wasn’t his fault that he didn’t have a house. Mortgages were hard to come by and so on. But why lie about owning the house in the first place? And what about the first son by another ex-girlfriend? Did he forget to mention him too?

As you can imagine, this was a very traumatic time for my friend. She was confused and hurt. I doubt that she was actually heartbroken because I am not sure she was really in love with the man. But she needed guidance on what to do and I recommended that she should go home to Nigeria to see her parents and seek their advice. When she came back from her visit I could hardly believe what she had to say. Her father lost his temper when she said she was considering breaking off the supposed marriage. He shouted at her and called her names for not realising what a wonderful man her husband was. She was stunned. Had they even ever met him? How come he was the model son-in-law and she was the evil daughter?

Her mother later told her that her husband had been sending them a substantial sum of money for their upkeep every month since the engagement last year. He even promised to buy them a car before the end of the year and called them frequently, whereas she only called once or twice a month.

It is a sad thing when one’s role models and advisers cannot tell the truth because they have been bribed with money. It is nothing short of a disaster if those role models are one’s parents. What is this world coming to when parents can’t give their own children honest advice because they are more concerned with their own welfare and material comfort?

I know some people will say that my friend should do whatever she feels is right. I agree, but she has always been one to take advice from her parents and she has never gone against their will before. She is still with the man. They are trying to make things work, or so she says.  However, she has now been diagnosed with depression and is taking medication to help with her mental state, all because of a man. The people who were meant to protect her didn’t do so and were happy to sell her to the highest bidder.

The message here is that we all have a special place in people’s hearts. Whether you are someone’s best friend, mentor, boss, pastor, confidant, parent or relative, we all need to support and encourage each other. Once one person starts to live off the other’s woes, the relationship becomes a parasitic one, where the parasite only wants what he can get, even if it means causing the host misery.

Be a blessing to the people in your life. Be that person that can be relied on to tell the truth, no matter how hard.