The Challenge Of Inter-Tribal Marriage

In the past, it was the duty of parents to find partners for their children.

They would search the community for a prospective partner and do a good search on the person and his or her extended family to ensure he or she would be a good life partner.

The search was localised so most people ended up marrying from their tribe.

Your parents get you a partner and you accept him or her. Such marriages tended to be stable even when the partners had never met or courted.

Today it’s the young people who look for their lovers from anywhere and seek parental approval.

In many cases, if you tell your parents about a potential spouse, the first question that will come up is ‘where does he or she come from?’

Your answer could spell hope or despair because for many parents where an in-law comes from is an important indicator to the health of a marriage.

Why inter-tribal marriage?
The world has become a small village. We move everywhere to study, work and seek adventure. Chances are that you interact with people of similar background and interest. Love does not know tribe and you may find yourself falling in love with someone outside your tribe

Some marry outside their tribe for personal benefits such as the chance to travel abroad. There are also those who are disappointed with their own kind through failed relationships and think people from their tribe never make good life partners.

The reality is that, Ghana is moving from a homogenous to a heterogeneous society and when young people meet, they are attracted to each other. Tribe can wait.

The challenge of inter-tribal marriage
Inter-tribal marriage has its genuine cultural conflicts because each tribe has its own beliefs and expectations of marriage. The wider the cultural conflicts, the greater the potential for conflicts.

There is also the problem of lineage. For example Gas, Ewes and Northerners inherit along paternal lines while the Akans inherit along maternal lines.

If an Akan man marries a Ga or Ewe, their children traditionally are lost because they do not belong anywhere.

Studies show partners in inter-tribal marriages have lower support from friends, family members and the society.

Sometimes the resistance of parents is so high many go back to their hometown to marry their kind, secretly or openly to please their extended family members.

Inter-tribal marriages, therefore, have a greater risk of marital dissatisfaction and divorce.

Is the tribal factor dying?
Today inter-tribal marriages are on the increase. You find Ghanaian marriages in so many permutations.

Some are marrying outside Ghana. This means the tribal factor is dying slowly because many know that if your marriage will work then you have to work at it and that where one comes from does not necessarily determine the health of a marriage.

Inter-tribal marriages do not have greater risk than intra-tribal marriages.

There are many cases of clients who have serious standoff with their parents on the tribe of their lovers. One case lasted four years before the parents gave in but not without very diplomatic counselling.

Now they confess this man is the best thing that happened to the entire extended family because he is the pillar of support. They see him as their own son and not an in-law.

If you meet someone you love but who comes from a different tribe, do this; go after him or her relentlessly and track him or her down as long as you truly love each other.

Your parents may show initial resistance but if you are patient and your lover proves himself or herself to be a good person, in almost all cases, the tribal factor will die and you could have a fulfilling marriage.

It is, however, important you do serious courtship and know your partner very well. Talk about the hard facts, your cultural differences and how to cope with them.

Learn each other’s language and enjoy each other’s local food. If you show commitment, mutual respect, effective communication and a forgiving spirit, the tribal factor will disappear and you will find true love is beautiful and has not tribal colours.

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The writer is the director of Eudoo Counseling Centre, West Legon. He is also the author of Your Guide To Marriage, The Journey Of Life And Love Unlimited. Mob 0208181861