Bride Price

November 1st, 2006
by Alfonso Ebanks

[private] v4-11-Our IslandsThe title of this article will probably not be recognized by most of our readers and it may be a little confusing to others, so I’ll try to explain it. Bride-Price is the exact opposite of a dowry, because unlike a dowry (valuables brought by the bride) the bride-price is monies, or other valuables, paid to the bride’s family.

In many parts of the world where the practice is still an ongoing requirement of marriage, the bride-price is paid by or in the name of a prospective husband. The practice of bride-price goes way back in the history of mankind and it was and still is a purposeful compensation to the bride’s family for the loss of a daughter.

In ancient times a daughter was a valuable asset and even though she was another mouth to feed, her work output should have been such so as to make up for this small consideration and expenditure. Without trying to sound too pessimistic, I believe I can safely say, the daughters of today cannot be valued for their work output. We must use another measuring stick if we are to find the values of the girl children of today.

I think the custom of bride-price was a morally correct thing to do because those daughters may have sprung from germ size elements, but to get them to marrying age (at least 18 years old) was not a simple or an inexpensive venture. For many months before they arrived in this world they commenced to cost you money, and the older they got the more money they cost the family. For as many as twenty years, a family fed, nurtured educated and protected their daughters.

I think it’s inconsiderate for some stranger to come along and ask a father for the hand of his daughter without an offering of good faith in his own hands. Now don’t get me wrong; the family is not selling their daughter, rather they are only being compensated for their losses and sometimes these losses can run into many hundreds of thousands. From a strictly financial standpoint the custom of raising children is about the poorest investment that a family can make. This poor investment could become a profitable venture if the habit of bride-price was restored.

In order for this bride-price to be a financial benefit to a family, the family would have to have at least two daughters for each son they bring into the world. If the family can only produce ugly daughters or daughters with physical defects, then the daughter to son ratio may have to be increased.

Bringing back bride-price is a good idea and all concerned would benefit from this practice. The potential groom will go into marriage with the acquired knowledge that the best things in life are not free. The lucky daughter will never be able to say that her mother told her not to marry that man.

The bride’s family will be kept happy during the day counting their newly acquired wealth and they will be kept busy during the night trying to produce more good looking daughters. Dowries brought by the woman to a marriage must be forfeited to the woman in case of a divorce but this rule does not apply to bride-price. Dissatisfied husbands can return the daughters to the family but they will not get their money back. See, that’s another plus for Bride-Price. [/private]

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