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Adda B Say So:”Lefe”To Do Or Not To Do?

By Fatima Zahra Umar

One of the most contentious issues when it comes to marriage in Arewa is LEFE. We all know the drill, money exchanges hands, inquiries as to sizes, what type of family is the bride from, is she a fashionable ‘yar gayu? Is she an ustaziya? Is she from the city or from the village? What are her preferred products? And the aunties agonising over questions like: How many boxes? Which designers should fill the boxes? How much super wax will be enough? Should we buy Sheraton or Hilton or exclusive? What about Java? Is it full set or half set or only bangles? Is it Kashka or Pashmina? How many Hollandaise wrappers will impress the in-laws? Which underwear/night wear designer(s) will show the in-laws that the groom is a capable man?
The way I understand it, these things should be gifts, a token, not an avenue to impress. Not an avenue to create false impressions. Not an avenue to display wealth. No, the way I see it, Lefe is not the end all and be all of a marriage. Whether he (or his family) provides Lefe or not, the responsibility of clothing still lies with him. The way we go about this lefe business you would think the bride would not wear anything else again for the rest of her life.
Somehow our aunties never ask if all the fussing, shopping and stressing is necessary. In all the buying and spending no one pauses to ask if this will be of benefit to the goal: a good marriage.
Menene ainihin amfanin kayan lefe a aure??
So me I am here to ask: is it really necessary? Does it in anyway enhance the quality of a marriage? Is the number of boxes directly proportional to the goodness of our spouse/marriage? What does anyone benefit from kayan lefe? Apart from trying to impress people that will gossip, envy and backbite?
While you think of the answers, let me tell you a story.
I was once invited to receive kayan lefe by a friend (who is the bride’s cousin). You know how they make receiving lefe a big event, with a lot of food and photographers (video cameramen too!). So anyway I dressed up and followed my friend to the bride’s family home. The groom’s family showed up with like 16 boxes, with 14 dedicated to the bride. As is the practice, each box was opened and its contents examined carefully by the audience (us). Unbeknownst to the rest of us, the bride’s aunties were communicating with the bride via WhatsApp, sending her pictures of everything-which is shocking to me because back in my day, we ran away from the house to hide. Back in my day you had to be calm and not really look at your lefe. Any show of excitement was deemed immodest and rashin hankali. Now imagine my shock and embarrassment when the bride called her aunties, in the middle of the proceedings, to complain about the gold jewellery! She said the groom promised her 3 full sets instead of the 1 full set that was received. The aunties raised hell that day! Sai Masifa! At the end of the day they returned the box containing the jewellery saying it’s not what their daughter was promised.
True story folks! This is the level we have degenerated to.
Now tell me, how will anybody enjoy that marriage (assuming the groom’s family still goes ahead)? And even if they do get married, will there be respect? Will there be appreciation?
These are the issues.
When I think about how many good young men out there struggling to put together lefe, I feel sorry for them. Marriage is not supposed to be a commercial enterprise; Marriage is for life not super wax.
Can we as a society stop insisting on lefe, kayan Daki and all that jazz and instead focus on the important things like character, values and upbringing?? My heart goes out to the brothers (especially the ones from the northeast) putting together lefe in this economy. The Lord is your strength. My heart also goes out especially to the parents/guardians putting together kayan Daki with this horrible exchange rate…
What we are doing as a society is enabling irresponsibility. A lot of women have told me that after their lefe, their husbands don’t bother with clothing. Lefe does NOT take away from a husband’s responsibility to clothe and cater to his wife’s needs. A lot of women know that fights start when gara starts dwindling! What sort of madness are we enabling when parents do everything for the groom? Even feed him with gara for at least a year after marriage, yet we wonder why divorce rates are high.
Imagine if we spent half as much the energy we give lefe, gara and kayan Daki on the character, morals and upbringing of potential spouses. Imagine that for a moment. This is what scholars always warn about- making marriage difficult and expensive makes zina attractive, not to mention removes blessings from marriages.

I have never really understood the logic behind lefe and kayan Daki, since the husband has to provide at all times during the marriage. And yes I have chopped my own lefe, but I have only one sallayya left from everything. At the end of the day my lefe had no way of affecting the way my marriage played out. Ba ruwan lefe da zaman aure. Lefe has nothing to do with the quality of your marriage! And remember Lefe and Kayan Daki is NOT by force.
So here is my suggestion: let us try to remove all these expensive traditions from marriages, and if we cannot then let us at least do what we can within moderation.
At the risk of being ostracised, may I also suggest that all the money for lefe and kayan Daki be given to the couple? So that they can do something worthwhile with the money like buy land or go for hajj?
Think about it, Because Adda B say So!
Follow me on twitter @tinkizee2

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