“Dating is one thing, but marriage is another”, an aunty told me. Marriage and dating are two different things, clearly, but which factors are fundamental when deciding whom to marry? Love is love, as one of the respondents said, but is it better to stay within cultural boundaries to save ourselves from the potential future troubles that might result from mixing cultures – as some elders advice – or should one ignore boundaries and deal with issues if they arise? Having to decide which culture my children followed more or which one was dominant in my household is another consideration, as I find it important for reasons of identity.
African parents, don’t joke with them Young and not-yet-married Nowadays, in this current generation of young-and-not-yet-married, or recently married, we don’t so much as bat an eyelid when we see mixed couples, but as one uncle put it to me, “Where would you live when you retire? If you married a Nigerian, how would you cope if he wanted to retire in Nigeria? Parents’ generation In our parents’ generation we know marrying within their own culture – even tribe – was paramount as they tried to maintain cultural cohesion and identity.
Am I saying that those who date outside of their culture are not in tune with their own?
Certainly not, but they certainly have embraced other cultures more and are willing to look past any real, imagined or expected obstacles.
Language “The problem is language; it’s the major issue” 36-year-old Alexi from Congo told me.
There were no cultural preferences, except they had to speak English and couldn’t be a “freshie” (someone who’s recently moved to the UK from Africa). However, as I got older and continued to date people from other countries, I realised there was always a barrier in the way, almost like a culture clash, and language, I felt, was the ultimate clash as it is one of the key markers of culture.
When I spoke to another Congolese person they understood me, but when I spoke to someone who didn’t speak my mother tongue, conversations couldn’t be as natural as I wanted them to be.