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Dilemma Of A Fulani Girl

By Zainab Hassana Aminu

Permit me to start up with this question; why do people get married? To many, the answer to the above question is not far-fetched; to love and be loved.

As true as calling a spade by its name,  there is more to marriage than just for love. And one of the burning issues that has been lingering on the minds of quite a good number of people is whether inter-tribal marriage does more harm than good in the lives of those who practice it.

By simple definition inter-tribal marriage is a marriage between a man and a woman from different races, ethnic groups or tribes.

What actually prompted me to write this piece is the fact that I’m a Fulani girl who happens to find herself in a dilemma of not being able to marry outside my own tribe. What that means is that its expected of me to control my heart against falling in love with a man outside my tribe.

That’s the tradition of my land, that’s the culture of my people, its part and parcel of our norms and values. Hence going against that is visible evidence that the girl is irresponsible without respecting the wishes of her parents. That’s the situation I’ve found myself in, being caged between two parent interests.

It’s in the light of these I’ve decided to search for answers from my people who know a lot and have vast knowledge about the tradition. That led me to Mallam Sagir Hamman, a secondary school teacher from my tribe.

According to him, the Fulani people are widely spread tribe, predominantly found in West African which makes them feel superior over every other tribe. He said the Fulani people practice a system of marriage known as Endogamy; where marriage is kept with the ethnic group. He said that the Fulani believe that their marriage lasts longer when the man and woman are both Fulani by tribe, thus divorce is rare.

In the past years, the Fulani people use to have a pre-arranged marriage even before the birth of their children.

According to Mallam Hamman, some of the reasoned Fulani women are not allowed to marry outside their tribe is the issue of inheritance. They want their inheritance to encircle within their lineage.

Another reason he said, is for them to maintain their culture. Fulani respect their culture and adore their language. Sometimes if not always, children are faced with not being to understand any Nigerian language when it comes to inter-tribal marriage.

The Fulani believe that marrying from another tribe will make the couple reluctant  and accept their wards showing interest to learn one language of either that of the father and mother. The Fulani people cant afford to allow their children go via that lifestyle.

Mallam Hamman disclosed that a Fulani father is very difficult to please when it comes to marrying his daughter off to a man outside their tribe.

Above all, these basic requirements from a Fulani father from his would-be son are nothing to write home about if the suitor is not God fearing, having a good family background, financially fitted and the likes.

I was also put in the know when I got a formal judgment from some of my friends that are also Fulani. They all opened up to me unlike Fulani girls who are known for their shyness and quick to dodge sensitive issues with style.

Aisha Saad said girls remain unmarried because they are forced to marry men they don’t love. She revealed that she was a victim; which forced marriage did not go down well with her because her suitors where not Fulani.

But Farida Abdullahi sees nothing wrong with such kind of marriage. But she was quick to admit that there was no fault marrying a man she loves if that is what would make her happy.

According to her, it’s the 21st century and inter-tribal marriage should not be an issue. Nigeria is one. Whoever a child chooses to marry is her choice”, she expressed.

Aisha alkali has kicked against inter-tribal marriage. She did not buy the idea of inter-tribal marriage one bit.

She said “when you have two families from different tribes, no matter how enlightened there would be difference that needs a lot of adjustment and sacrifices, she felt it was better to marry from ones tribe to avoid problem and going via the stress of adopting and understanding a new culture.

Hamman Jibril said that inter-tribal marriage forces ethnic harmony, adding that it helps people to understand and appreciate other peoples culture.



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