EMOTIONAL 419 - By Titilope Ajayi

Sound funny? Not if you’ve ever fallen prey to this disturbing trend. The facts and circumstances may vary between cases but the mundane plot is fairly consistent: boy meets girl or vice versa. After some ritual of familiarization, they fall in love and decide to marry. Somewhere along the line, some oversabi (read meddlesome/interfering) family member convinces the half of the couple she is related to to ‘consult’ some form of soothsayer about the prospects of the impending marriage. The said diviner inevitably predicts a doomed conjugal life. Somewhere between this life-altering discovery and the agreed/set wedding day, the usually unsuspecting other half of the couple is suddenly abandoned fiancé(e)-less to fate.

If the old grapevine is anything to go by, this phenomenon is more common than many people realize. I tried to conduct a survey on Facebook to get some statistics but in veritable Naija fashion, no one seems to want to talk about it. Some attribute it to spiritual attack aka juju – the idea being that somebody somewhere does not want the marriage to take place and will go to any length to stop it. Others genuinely believe that there are spiritual or other fundamental incompatibilities that will take a heavy toll on a couple and their families if the marriage is allowed to take place. Personally I put it down to spiritual lethargy and emotional immaturity. Whatever the case, the pain of the broken promise and anticipation of marriage and the utter frustration of disappointed or unfulfilled love are difficult to handle and many, women especially, never recover fully. In fact according to the Archives of Ibadan Medicine, research suggests that one of the major causes of mental illness among women in Nigeria is the shock or stress caused by romantic disillusionment. The divination of marriage is not new; it was widely practised by the ancient civilizations of Israel, Rome, Greece, and China and is still observed in many parts of Africa today primarily by traditionalists. Far be it from me to prescribe how anyone should live but to my mind there’s a reason that marriage divination is associated with times bygone: it’s a primitive way of choosing a life partner! It is also a fraudulent way to marry because it is based on the ‘assurance’ that the path of conjugal life will always be smooth and straight.

Marriage is a school of character and the experiences that we have therein are meant to shape us and make us into better people. It seems to me a tragic misuse of life to be so afraid to live it that we miss out on the lessons that we are destined to learn by sharing our lives with certain people. Now to the koko (heart) of the matter; how do you protect yourself from emotional 419? For starters, take the time to get to know a person before committing to marriage. As my sage father rightly says, a lifetime is not long enough to truly know another. However, when a person has created a dependency on a spiritual broker, there will be signs. Indecision, for one. Add to that a constant fear of the malicious spirits that mystics will tell you are constantly trying to destroy you and your destiny. Anyone who manifests any such habits needs help and by virtue of your emotional attachment you are NOT the best person to provide it.

Secondly, DO NOT marry someone who even hints at consulting anyone other than Allah (SWT) concerning your marriage. It is a severely insecure and cowardly person who seeks to know the future in order that she may approach it and life in the easiest way possible. If you give in even once the rest of your life will automatically be hijacked by the so-called prophet. Anyone who depends so completely on others for direction is inherently incapable of deciding anything alone let alone committing to it. In the words of Sunny Nneji, if your beloved no longer wants you, someone else will. It is decidedly cruel to abandon your intended at or in close proximity to marriage on such flimsy premises. You are not committed to your partner if you waver at the slightest hint of trouble, even if it is only a man-made mirage.

That said, in situations where entire families are against a union the partners should probably reconsider; prophet or no, they will create problems to justify their stance and make the marriage miserable. Otherwise, how you deal with such an issue is a direct reflection of your self-worth and your commitment to your partner and relationship. If we are honest, we all know couples that were discouraged from marrying,%20for various reasons, and who have gone on to have happy, fruitful and lasting unions. Who says yours has to be any different? InshaAllah, you get the marriage you deserve. Take a chance, trust Allah (SWT), ask him what you want, pray, fast, do istikhara, wake up at night and make more dua, follow your heart. Dare to live.

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