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Where Is Your Marriage Certificate?

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A woman who was recently widowed, was being terrorised by the relatives of her late husband. So, she fled to a social welfare office (yes, these exist in Nigeria) and laid her complaint. She was then asked if she was sure she was married to the late man. She replied in the affirmative.

She was asked, “Where is your marriage certificate?”
That was things went truly awry.
The wedding certificate she brought, was a mere piece of paper – she had had what amounted to a religious ceremony, which had absolutely no legal ramifications.
So, the welfare office couldn’t help her – despite how pathetic her case was; her in-laws had thrown her out of the house, in which she had lived with her live-in partner (whom she had thought was a husband), forcefully divested her of all their joint properties … and nobody could do a thing to help her.

Many Nigerian women are in this boat; some of them are heading in this direction, without realising. I have no idea why anyone in their right mind, would borrow to have an elaborate church wedding, without checking that they are actually married. With the over-emphasis on marriage in Nigeria, like it’s the elixir of existence, I would have thought it was common sense to check that you are actually married; thinking you are married, does not make you married.

The obsession with religion in Nigeria, means that some women buy into the self-hating assumption that ‘god’ only recognises the church ceremony. They listen to the lies of, “Don’t insist on a civil/court ceremony because it means you are a feminist, who has evil thoughts of divorce prior to the marriage.” I personally believe that all couples should have thoughts of divorce, before venturing in – but that is a matter for a different post …

Fact is – there is nothing wrong with trying to protect yourself, which is what a registry wedding does for the couple, not just for one person. If your conscience is clear, why won’t you sign a piece of paper, to give your wife peace? A man who loves you, would never put you through certain messes. I’m talking about heterosexual unions now, hence the reference to male and female. It’s kinda like with a pre-nup; I appreciate that there may be complications, but a person with a clear conscience and honourable intentions should not have a problem with signing a piece of paper which effectively says, “I promise I will do this; but just in case I don’t, here is what you can do about it.” It’s a basic contract, it’s common sense and I am trying hard not to delve into that post I referred to, above …

I have not said that every ceremony conducted in a Nigerian church, is not legally binding. Very few, if any ceremonies conducted in the Catholic church, are not legally binding. No, I am not fronting for the Catholic church. But the unfortunate reality of numerous Nigerian ‘pentecostal’ churches is that many of them are not even licensed to carry out weddings. What that means in simple English, is that while you think you are satisfying your religious inclinations (and members of your church), you are digging a hole for yourself. Many of the churches hide this salient information – we are not licensed to carry out weddings – from their congregants. One way to know if your church is licensed, is if they insist on seeing a registry certificate before they wed you. The reason they insist is that the availability of a registry certificate means that you are married. You cannot marry the same person more than once, without a divorce in between – so, there is absolutely no way they can marry you, a second time. Even people who have been married for a long time (OK, some for a year) and want an excuse to have a lavish party while celebrating their union, have vow renewals. They don’t have second weddings, because they are already married. But then, that’s just one way to know; they might not even tell you, meaning that you will be in the position of the widow I mentioned at the start of this blog post, should your partner die.

It is common sense.
It makes no sense that anyone would go through the ridiculous expense of a church ceremony (church wedding ceremonies and receptions don’t have to be expensive, but the average Nigerian really doesn’t understand that) without taking the time to ensure that their marriage is valid. If you can insist on a wedding that costs N1m (a million Naira), you are just operating in self-hatred if you refuse to obtain a marriage certificate at your local registry; it costs less than 10% of that amount.

This thing of ‘being married in the sight of god’ only happening when you have a church ceremony, is all shades of silly. If you believe in that sort of thing, are you saying that the devil is the one present at the registry? It doesn’t matter whether you believe that the courts are of the devil; if the law of the land, in which you reside, doesn’t recognise you as married, you are just not married.

It is laughable that a woman who is actually co-habiting, despite a lavish but legally useless religious ceremony, turns up her nose at an unmarried woman – because she thinks that bearing Mrs, albeit falsely, makes her a better class of human being. Or doesn’t understand that despite her pontification, she is no different from the one she condemns for having a ‘polythene bag marriage’. It is pathetic when a delusional woman with a live-in lover, claims that any woman who values civil ceremonies is ‘buying into a demonic, feminist agenda’. It’s funny how when crap hits the fan, the ‘holy ones’ seek deliverance from ‘men and women with feminist agenda’.

And in keeping with your religious sensibilities, the point at which you are trying to apply for a visa, you are thrown out of the home you helped to build, or when you are overwhelmed with grief at the demise of a man you love(d) – is really not the time you want to find out that, after all your preaching, you have only been committing fornication … because you were never really married.

All Rights Reserved, Chioma Nnani

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