African societies have a very strange way of dealing with young people taking their time before engaging in marriage. If getting married and building a family is a fundamental human right, deciding when and with whom to do so is also a right. However, the social pressure on young unmarried in Africa is the main topic of discussion.
Marriage is the the foundation of a family by a man and a woman through a series of civil or sometimes religious acts. In Africa, marriage unites more than two individuals, it unites two families. Indeed, the family dimension is a very important aspect of African marriage. It is still considered to be the center of everything in the community. There meet those alive, dead and the “unborn”. Together, they constitute a unique three-dimensional community. Néanmoins de nos jours, les jeunes, qu’ils soient ruraux ou citadins, sont très influencés par les idées nouvelles et modernes. Since this is a lifetime commitment, young people most of the time don’t want to rush into it for fear of failure. This situation leads to early exposure to variety of criticism. They worry about the perception of others. They are constantly influenced by their family and society. The motivations for marriage then become diverse. Love is no longer the main reason for marriage. Beaucoup se marient par obligation, d’autres pour la sécurité sociale et le respect, et certains parce que la pression est devenue insupportable.
A young and single man in Africa, in the 25+ age margin, is regularly asked: “When are you getting married?”, “What are you waiting for?”, “Why are you chasing men?”, “When When will you introduce us to your future wife?”, ” Go and get married”, “I wish to see my grandson before I die”. Comments that intimidate, destabilize a person’s stability. We tend to forget that marriage is a lifetime commitment requiring not only psychological but also material preparation. In town mainly, money takes a greater place in choosing a bride or a groom. Whether men or women, everyone wants to be professionally successful, have a comfortable position before engaging. Many young people therefore choose their partner at an advanced age. The result is a high rate of premarital sex.
Confronted with these pressures, many of them lose control, end up getting into a loveless relationships with the first person they meet, most of which eventually degenerate. How many young people did not end up “divorced”, after marrying a woman or a man they don’t really know due to social pressure?
Moreover, in current African societies, there is no social respect for unmarried people. No matter how rich you are, when you are not a husband or a housewife, “you don’t worth much”. The pressures become even greater when the person is in lack of basic needs and yet is encouraged to marry a woman simply because he is of advanced age. Just one question. Must we marry to be happy or to please? The most important is to be happy. Get married, ok, but only when you are prepared to face all the difficulties coming with it. We don’t marry to meet our need, but we marry to meet the need of the other.
French translation of ” Pressions sociales en Afrique : Se marier pour plaire ou pour être heureux ? ”, Eliane FATCHINA by Salima ALAGBE