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1.1          Background of the Study

Marriage is practiced in all cultures. It is a process by which individuals select their life partners. It is an old institution which regulates the terms upon which male and female reproduce according to well defined and acceptable social norms. Arlene (2009) has it that marriage is a socially recognized and approved union between individuals, who commit to one another with the expectation of a stable and lasting intimate relationship. A marital relationship usually involves some kind of contract, either written or specified by tradition, which defines the partners’ right and obligations to each other, to the child they may have, and their relatives.

In addition to being a personal relationship between two people, marriage is one of the society’s most important and basic institutions. Marriage and family serve as tools for ensuring social reproduction. Social reproduction includes providing food, clothing, and shelter for the family members, raising and socializing children; and caring for the sick and elderly.

According to Encarta (2009) Marriage is commonly defined as a partnership between two members of opposite sex known as husband and wife. However, scholars who study human culture and society disagree on whether marriage can be universally defined. The usual roles and


responsibilities of the husband and wife include these elements that exist. For example scholars have studied several cultural groups in Africa and India in which husbands and wives do not live together. Instead, each spouse remains in his or her original home, and the husband is a “visitor” with sexual rights.

Debates over the definition of marriage illustrate its dual nature as both a public institution and a private, personal relationship. On the one hand, marriage involves an emotional and sexual relationship between particular human beings. At the same time, marriage is an institution that transcends the particular individuals involved in it and unites two families. In some cultures, marriage connects two families in a complicated set of property exchanges involving land, labour, and other resources. The extended family and society also share interest in the children the couple may have.

In traditional Igbo society, marriage confers special status to a man and a woman. This is because a man who reached the age of marriage and has not done so is looked down upon. He is regarded as “Efurefu” which means a “useless”, “care-free man” or “good for nothing old man”. Similarly, a woman who has advanced in years and has not yet married is also regarded as “Nnayanu” which means the father will marry. Either lineage members are therefore most anxious to ensure that their members are not enjoined with that epithet as “Efurefu” or “Okokporo”


According to Basden (1966:68), marriage is a most important event in Igbo life from the time when the boys and girls are capable of thinking for themselves; marriage is set before them as the one object to be attained.

For Nsukka people, marriage is a serious contract for it joins two lineages. This is because when a man is married; he establishes a serious link between his own lineage and lineage of the wife. The Igbo usage for this relationship is known as “Ogo” which means in-law. Marriage is therefore seen as a system which is used to cement inter-family relationship. It can also be said that a woman is married not only to her husband; but also to the lineage; thus her reproductive power is predominantly transferred to her husband patrilineal descent group.

Mixed marriage is seen as a social problem in contemporary Nigerian society. According to Hornsby (2002:915) mixed marriage is a marriage between two people from different races or religions. Mixed marriage can also be described as the marriage of a couple who have different cultural; ethnic or national heritages or backgrounds. “It is a topic which has elicited diverse reactions from all classes of Nigerians Irrespective of social; tribal; religious or philosophical underpinnings. While a great many people unapologetically kick against such marriages and are vociferous in their opposition to it; another class no less formidable, is equally irate that the union of persons from different tribal origins should


create rumpus, which at times leads to broken relationship, pains, disillusionment and in some cases suicide. There were a flurry in the press in Lagos a few years back when a young lady allegedly took her life when her parents stated their opposition to her relationship with a young man, whose only crime was the fact that he came from a ‘wrong’ part of the country. The victim in a suicide note left behind, said that the only barrier that was capable of separating her from him was death, a route she had decided to take”. (Omoniyi, Daily Trust: 2010)

1.2    Statement of Problem

In Nigeria there is increase in mixed marriages among the new generations. There has been a great opposition from families against mixed marriage; the oppositions could be in terms of religion, culture and the society. In Nsukka area, mixed marriage has been seen as a social problem due to differences in religion and different cultural practices. Bok-him Kim (1998) averred that interracial marriages displayed undaunted courage and optimism in spite of the obstacles they faced due to language and cultural differences and the lack of support from their families and communities in many countries. However every marriage is cross-cultural, since we all come from different families of origin with a variety of value and beliefs. Thus two people may have grown up in the same village, spoke the same language, attended the same school, and yet have very different beliefs and values. The diverse cross-cultural marriages will encounter some unique challenges and


require lots of understanding, communication, patience and grace. “Understanding takes the longest “said one couple,” and in a cross-cultural marriage you have to work twice as hard at understanding one another. From the above background, there is need to investigate on the issue of mixed marriage in Nsukka area of Enugu State. What role does religion and culture play in mixed marriage? What are the socio/cultural and religious implications of mixed marriage? What are the different types of marriages that are practiced In Nsukka area? All the aforementioned above constitute the problem that this work has to address.

1.3       Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this work is to critically examine the reason why people reject mixed marriages. The work has to look at the role of religion in mixed marriage, due to people’s different cultural differences it is assumed that if one marries outside ones religious and cultural group that it would not work out.

To see whether culture also plays important role in mixed marriages, as people always consider ones cultural background before marriage. Finally to see the types of marriages that exists in Nsukka area.

1.4       Significance of the Study

Obviously, this work will go a long way to increase the knowledge and understanding of mixed marriage for both the researcher, reader, and the general public. It is useful to our Nigerian society especially those preparing


to enter inter-tribal or mixed marriage. The work will be added to the numerous existing literatures in the library on mixed marriage.

Moreover, it will serve as a source material to those who may want to do more research work on the topic in future.

1.5       The Scope of the Study

The marriage relationship is the “cement” that binds society together. Marriage accommodates our social needs and also provides the means for gratification of sexual desire – a virtuous, God – given inclination. The study will deal with the socio/ cultural and religious implication of mixed marriage in Nsukka L.G.A of Enugu State and Kogi or Benue L.G.A.

It will also discuss the different types of marriages in societies but with a particular focus in Nsukka area of Enugu state of Nigeria

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