Africa culture and the negative outcomes of bride price

Africa culture and the negative outcomes of bride price

In Africa, bride price or dowry payment is a widespread practice in societies, and in some traditional African societies bride price has some positive aspects but the negative aspects of it are more when compared.

Bride price or dowry relates to services and goods that a bridegroom and his family have to give out to the bride’s family.

In some African countries, it involves giving out livestock to the family of the bride, while some by paying a huge sum of money to the bride’s family.

From distance, you can see the negative consequence of the bride-price through its meaning

which has the connotation of a financial or purchase transaction because, in present-day Africa, bride-price is more of a financial transaction.

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Bride-price has to lead to many negative consequences like women getting treated like a property, a family making use of daughters as an investment,

forced marriages, family conflict, enslavement, inferiority, gender-based violence, and dehumanization.

After this said, let’s take a look at how African culture is affecting women through the process of bride price.

Daughters as an investment

African parents nowadays, see their daughters as a means of becoming wealthy.

Most of these set of people groups, such as the Nandi culture place more value on cows compared to their daughters or wives’ lives.

They value their daughters more just because they will receive cows eventually from their husbands.

To these sets of African parents, a daughter is like a bank account and some feel it’s okay for her father to draw from her anytime he wants.

Another example is the Kenya Central Province, the craving for bride price money by parents

led some women to form groups for them to pay their bride price themselves if their suitor can’t.

Africa culture and the negative consequences of bride price payment on Women

Seeing women as property

The commercialization of bride-price money began with the introduction of cash. So, bride-price is paid to families in cash rather than livestock.

Cash as we know it symbolizes sale, so African women are seen as something of sale. That’s the reason why in African culture women are seen as chattel and property.

In many African communities, parents put a tag price on the heads of their daughters and the payment goes higher if the bride to be is educated.

With this, the African society tends to treat women as property without any dignity.

Forced marriages

Several African parents have an interest more in bride-price than the welfare of their daughters.

They prefer to marry their daughters off to rich men even if the daughter is underage or hasn’t completed her school. This is common in the Northern part of Nigeria.

Other places do practice forced marriage too like some African families when their boys need to go to school,
they marry their daughters off to gain money through bride price.

Family conflict

Marriages based on bride prices are mostly found on suspicion and bitterness which can lead to conflict.

This is because of the unreasonable demands made by African parents before the marriage.

Most of the time, the demand leads to loss of respect for family member’s and after paying

the requested money most of them break off any relationship with the bride’s family.

Enslavement of women

In Africa culture, the bride price gets paid in exchange for the woman’s reproductive and productive labor.

The woman in question is seen as a machine to give birth and source of labor.

Because of this, if the woman isn’t reproductive it can lead to maltreat from the man and he can demand his bride-price back.

Dehumanization and Inferiority

In African culture, since men do the payment of bride price, they have the notion that the woman

has been bought which gives women an inferior position because they can’t stand equal to the buyer.

This act is very dehumanizing because no amount of money can be compared to a person’s life.

The man’s family believes because her bride price was paid they also have control over her.


As you have read above, the African culture on bride price payment has lead to mistreatment and inferiority of women in society.

If asked, I think the bride-price payment should

be eradicated for women to be able to stand up for their rights and their well being.

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