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“Dating is one thing, but marriage is another”, an aunty told me. Marriage and dating are two different things, clearly, but which factors are fundamental when deciding whom to marry? Love is love, as one of the respondents said, but is it better to stay within cultural boundaries to save ourselves from the potential future troubles that might result from mixing cultures – as some elders advice – or should one ignore boundaries and deal with issues if they arise? Having to decide which culture my children followed more or which one was dominant in my household is another consideration, as I find it important for reasons of identity.African parents, don’t joke with them Young and not-yet-married Nowadays, in this current generation of young-and-not-yet-married, or recently married, we don’t so much as bat an eyelid when we see mixed couples, but as one uncle put it to me, “Where would you live when you retire? If you married a Nigerian, how would you cope if he wanted to retire in Nigeria? Parents’ generation In our parents’ generation we know marrying within their own culture – even tribe – was paramount as they tried to maintain cultural cohesion and identity.An older woman asked me: “How many mixed cultured couples do you know who have grown old together?” True I didn’t know any mixed elderly couples, but perhaps this is because there is a greater diversity of Africans living in the diaspora than there were 30 years ago.
Stop wasting your time; you’ll regret it when you get older. It’s for your own good”, said her mother, adamantly.It didn’t help when I went to their houses and the family would purposely speak in their language to exclude me, which reminded me that I wasn’t one of them.It was for this reason that I began to look for like-minded guys who were also from my own culture, guys I could relate to. I know my family would be pleased if I brought home a Congolese man, but what if I do so to my own detriment? Love blinds common sense.” The idea of retiring in a country totally unfamiliar to me is quite daunting and something I know would take a lot of discussion with my future partner, if he happened to have a different country of origin.However, even in Congo a country that boasts a long history of tribalism, there came a time during the Mobutu regime when he encouraged tribes and regions to unite because he understood that a united Congo meant a stronger state.Can we apply the same line of reasoning to our argument and suggest that perhaps if we as Africans remain open to marrying people from other African countries, could we also have a stronger and united Africa?