- A call for Expert African Theologians’ deliberation
By Fr. Anthony Aneke
In an online conversation with Fr. Anthony Aneke the director of Choice Flame Newspaper, on the need to revisit Pre-marital Education (Marriage course) in Africa, Fr. Kelvin Ugwu a priest of the missionary society of St. Paul who works in Malawi reiterated the need for African theologians to look into the seeming divide between African Traditional Marriage and the White Wedding (Church Marriage) for a number of reasons. For him, the integration of the two as one would go a long way to solve a lot of local contemporary issues facing marriages in Africa. This is further colloborated by Fr. Anthony who on his part called for the possibility of an African synod on the issue.
Earlier, it could be recalled that Fr Kelvin in a post shared on his platform tagged White Wedding Vs Traditional Wedding, said that the fact that stares us to our faces is what we call “White Wedding” in our part of the world, which could be considered as “Traditional Wedding” by those from whom we copied the wedding from.
Tracing the history of the white wedding when the then Queen Victoria of England in 1840 decided to wear a white gown for her wedding to Prince Albert, Fr. Kelvin tagged it a multiplication of ceremony and something he described as an inferiority for a black man to celebrate what he calls traditional wedding and still feels he is not married until he celebrates the traditional wedding of the Western man (white wedding), wearing three piece suit and his wife dressed in a long white gown under a hot sokoto-like sun.
“The only fact that makes it not to appear like a multiplication is what I call the “Church-ness” or the “Christ-ness” imbedded into the white wedding. I guess this is why people now call it church wedding or Christian wedding. But, even at that, there is a problem.
“The Christian faith as brought by Christ is universal. It can be planted into any culture. The missionary don’t need to carry the culture of his place alongside the faith to others. No culture is superior to the other”, he wrote.
Fr. Kelvin however suggested what he feels should be of more importance in the discourse about marriage as it relates to what it should actually be.
He said; “All we need do is to take out what constitutes the “Church-ness” and “Christ-ness” from the white wedding and put it into our own traditional wedding. That’s the sacramental character of marriage.
One does not need a suit and a gown, a bridal train or best men in suits, flowers girls or even rings, before his wedding could be called a Christian wedding.
One does not necessarily need to come to a church building and take vows before the altar before the wedding could be called church wedding.
What makes marriage is not the wedding suits or gown, it is not the rings, even the priest or pastor is there as a witness. This is why even a deacon can assist in a marriage. And in some extreme cases, where there is no priest or deacon, After due approval, the law of the church allows the diocesan bishop to delegate lay persons to assist in wedding. (Canon 1112.1).
What makes marriage according to the teachings of the Church in Canon 1057 §1 is simply the CONSENT of the parties, legitimately manifested between persons qualified by law.”
According to Fr. Kelvin, there is usually a subtle confusion in a situation where a couple plans and gets married in the traditional way (Igba nkwu), while preparing for their White wedding. In the African culture, they are married but then the marriage is not sacramental. When this happens, they are in a dilemma whether the girl could stay in the husbands’ house or still live with the parents.
While acknowledging that marriage as being a sacramental, though could be done anywhere, but must have the backing and approval of the Bishop, however, he took it a step further to lash out at what he described as resource wastefulness by Africans in the name of organizing two weddings at the same time. This he blamed at the mental slavery inherent in Africa.
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