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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 May, 2004, 16:59 GMT 17:59 UK
Do inter-racial marriages work?
KV and Priti
KV and Priti's families have finally accepted their relationship

BBC Africa Live! wants to find out what challenges mixed race relationships face. Does it mean a clash of cultures?

Priti and KV live in Kenya and are planning their wedding for later this year.

They have been together for nearly nine years but Priti is Asian-Kenyan from a Sikh family while KV is a black Kenyan from the Kikuyu tribe.

They have faced strong opposition to their union from family members, but finally both their parents have given the couple their blessing.

Are you in a mixed race relationship or are your parents from different races? What's been your experience?

Join the BBC's Africa Live debate on Wednesday 2 June at 1630 & 1830GMT.

Use the form to send us your comments - some of which will be published below.

If you would like to take part in the discussion, e-mail us with your telephone number, which will not be published.


Your comments:

I think everyone is missing the point here focussing on the statement "skin colour does not matter". The reality of inter-racial marriages, or how I would like to call them inter-cultural marriages is the challenges mainly arising from the difference in cultures. I have lived in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Asia, and I do notice the cultural differences and not the skin colour or tone. I have dated women from all the different cultures, and some I have cared for a lot, but I knew that in the long run it will never work. How do the children get brought up? What religion (if you are from different religions)? What language do you speak at home (if different)? Sometimes you have to let your brain take control of your heart, not the other way round.
Anonymous, Japan

I believe in inter-racial marriages though it didn't work for me. I lived with a Nigerian man for five years. We never had any bad experiences. Everybody from both sides gave us a warm welcome. After five years I can honestly say that I learned a lot about my husbands culture and give my respect to it. Not so my husband. He had zero tolerance for my culture and didn't make any effort to find out about it. He built up his little "Nigeria" in Germany and isolated me.
Evelyn Menke, Germany

Most Indians are awful towards black Africans and if this relationship was the other way round (Priti marrying a white guy) her parents would not bother at all.
Jason Louder, Cherry Hill,USA

Colour has never been an issue in my family
Kim, USA

My mom is white and my father is black. There are some who feel an interracial marriage is wrong, because the children are negatively affected. I am 24 years old and working towards my PhD. I am very active in my church, and I volunteer in my community. I feel blessed having been brought up in a home with two loving parents. Colour has never been an issue in my family. I have never felt confused, or out of place. I have always felt love, and I count it as a blessing having been brought up in an interracial family.
Kim, USA

I am Ugandan living in the United States, where generation X does not consider race as a factor in falling in love. Love is colour is colourblind. Today people are looking for someone who will respected them, and treats them well when they fall in love with that someone. I would like to congratulate Priti and KV on their coming wedding.
Peter Waggs, USA

I agree with Patrick Mangassa of USA whose sentiments are against inter-racial marriages. It is all very easy for two people to fall in love and pronounce themselves ready for matrimony, but does society understand what the children of multiracial marriages go through? I am writing from a country that has (72)seventy two tribes and even though all these tribes are black, it is still hard to merge two tribes by, or through marriage. When a woman marries a white man, out there, she is just treated like a house maid by the man's relatives. When a black man entices a white woman whilst he is io his ventures as an immigrant, all does go well, but let them now come to mother Africa where poverty will welcome them at the airport. Many a time, these women do not last even half a year because they are not able to cope with our poverty datum line. I am not able to stop this inter racial marriage, but those that are wise should think twice before getting entangled to some other race.
Shutiie Libuta, Zambia /Central Africa

After almost nine years of marriage to a Zimbabwean - myself being a white American - I am only grateful to have found the partner I've got. If my relatives could only see further than the colour my husband's skin - or recognise it as being equally acceptable to their own - our lives would be easier. Why do people waste time and energy trying to complicate the lives of others?
Anne Turner (Dr.), Rwanda

The success of mixed race relationship depends on the level of literacy and exposure of the families involved. It has worked in a society where the two families are well educated. While others are plagued with problems
Busola Ande, Lagos, Nigeria

My father and uncle were both married to Europeans (a German and a Belgian) and both are now divorced. Both relationships broke up for the same reasons other relationships do: a failure in commitment to make the marriage work and not the differences in race.
Wole Solana, Nigeria

Why do people waste time and energy trying to complicate the lives of others?
Anne Turner, Rwanda

What amazes me most is that despite a man and a woman falling in love and feeling good about it, family and friends often feel strongly against it just because of their racial biases. It's a shame...let everyone live up to the saying: it's the wearer who knows best where the shoe pinches!
Mzee Safari, kenya/uk

Being white and married to a Black British woman of West Indian decent, I find comments such as those made by Patrick Mangassa staggeringly offensive. What a shame that he feels he's "lost" North Africa. Adolf Hitler felt much the same way about the Sudetenland in the 1930s. And he had similar ideas on the purity of race. Mr Mangassa doesn't even have the guts to call himself the racist he so blatantly is, preferring to hide behind the cloak of conservatism.
Matt, UK

I think by calling the union a mixed race union is the problem in the first place. I've been married for 10 years to a coloured lady from South Africa and apart from the initial first year hiccups of settling in a new country for her and getting to know my mother, it has been smooth sailing. Granted, there are hiccups like in any normal functioning marriage, but none which cannot be overcome by a collective decision to let the marriage work. In hindsight, it is a miracle that it did with the backdrop of apartheid policies in Namibia before independence. Would I marry a person of another race and from another country again? Yep. Would it be my initial goal to go and find one: Nope.
Ripuree Haakuria, Namibia

Living in South Africa, the rainbow nation, I expected more open minded people but being white, my wife got classified as a coloured (during apartheid ) and my son, black. Almost everyday is a new challenge. I have a wonderful marriage but the ignorance of some people is a real challenge. When will that change? How many generations do we need, to learn that the separation of skin colour is created by ignorant people .
Volker, South Africa

I have realised that interracial relationships last longer when the both partners work but when one partner he is unemployed or has a lower income, the love starts to deteriorate and ends up in divorce. Nowadays, race has no meaning. What is important is money. If you are a monkey and have money the marriage will of course last. That's been my own experience.
Sylvain Aristide, Finland

I personally do not encourage inter-racial marriages, for the reason that they destroy one's cultural back ground. But as long as the two agree to respect and promote each others tribal and culture back ground, I would give it a green-light. That's what I've been preaching to my three children.
Ntege Bigali Namutula, Winnipeg, Mb. Canada

I am a Pakistani muslim involved in a loving relationship with a Phillipino catholic. Our greatest hurdle will be telling my parents that we intend to marry. Until then our relationship remains a secret. Due to cultural and religious differences it will be hard for my parents to accept it: I find it selfish.
Isha,

Nowadays, race has no meaning. What is important is money
Sylvain Aristide, Finland

I am the result of a bi-racial marriage. I am 32 years old and in all of those years, I have faced different types of discrimination, but none bad enough for me ever to wish I was just one race. I feel I have the best of both worlds. I have been exposed and welcomed into so many communities because no-one ever exactly knows what I am or where I belong. I now work for the UN in Sierra Leone and I believe that my childhood experiences now help me to work in this organisation filled with people from everywhere. One of the dumbest questions I have been asked is which culture do you feel more comfortable in? I am a product of both cultures. A bi - racial friend once told me what her father told her while growing up. "Take vanilla and chocolate ice cream and put it in a bowl and mix together. Then try to take out the chocolate ice cream. You can't". We are a product of our parents.
Rachel Goldstein-Rodriguez, US

I'm Nigerian. My wife and best friend is German. We tied the knot approximately four years ago, after dating for 2 years. My family adores my wife. My mother in-law is the world's best mother in-law and, I adore her. My wife and I love and respect each other. The success of a marriage depends, neither on colour nor race but, on the couple. My wife, is the best thing that ever happened to me and, I will do it all over again if I have to.
Norbert Dwayne Weweh, Germany

What about the cute kids? The reason I mixed my European genes with my husband's Korean genes was for the cute kids. So what if he was getting his PhD and we loved each other and he needed his green card - deep down mostly I wanted to have adorable Eurasian kids. If I'd known any Africans in college I might have beautiful Afro-european American children instead!!
Eve Somers, Redondo Beach, California, USA

Being different races has been kind of hard for me because I never feel like I can fit in entirely with one race. People often tap me on the shoulder and say stuff like, "What are you?" or "What's your nationality?" (often people don't know the difference between nationality and ethnicity), and they're usually just complete strangers. Sometimes they think I'm Native American, other times Filipino, Hispanic, Mongolian, half Japanese and half white, or half black and half white... I could go on for hours. (I'm actually half Chinese, a quarter black, and a quarter white.) Chinese people don't consider me Chinese because I hardly know anything in Chinese; the longest thing I can say in Chinese is "do not sit in my seat," and it took me three months just to remember how to say that. (I've found that I look less Chinese to Asian people and more Chinese to non-Asian people.) I can't fit in with black people because people seem to think I don't "talk" black! I know my life would be less complicated if I was just one race, I like being what I am: it makes me glad that my parents didn't care that they were different races and decided to marry each other and have kids anyway. I wouldn't trade my ethnicity for anything in the world.
Madeleine, New York, United States

I'm a black woman from Kenya and fell in love with a white man from the most obscure of places in the United States. He was clueless about all things African, and we argue about issues all the time. But I wouldn't have given him up for all the cultural differences in the world. If you're going to get married, then you are going to get married - not your parents or your friends or the random rubbernecks on the street.
C.O., USA

The truth is my mum will not consent to an inter-racial marriage, not even to a person of a different ethnicity of the same skin colour. Do I hurt her or myself (assuming I do love someone of a different race)? I think they would work, a bit more difficult than 'normal' ones, but definitely.
Pari, India/US

KV and Priti are two young Kenyans obviously very much in love.They are very brave because mixed marriages between Kenyans of African and Asian descent are not very common.The two represent the true face of today's Kenya and deserve all our support. I see no reason why the marriage should not work.Good luck guys!
L. Soita, Kenya

I wonder how much of my love for her is confused with my fascination with the Japanese culture.
Matt, Australia

Does it works? Yes. Will everyone accept it? There is always someone who will not. Is mixed race relationship for all? No. Some people cannot even get along with their own. One thing I want to say is that if she loves me and I love her only God can stop us.
Al, USA

I am a white Australian and my girlfriend is Japanese. We have been together for almost nine months now and love each other very much. There are lots of challenges for both of us and sometimes I wonder how much of my love for her is confused with my fascination with the Japanese culture. Often the two are inextricably linked. However, being able to recognise this facet also allows me to try to see my girlfriend as just a regular person who is special to me.
Matt, Australia

What would the world look like without colour? God made his world beautiful, the heavenly bodies with different shapes and colours, the human race of different colours, the sea and its creatures of different shape, size and colour, also the flowers, trees and animals. Why can't we love each other, live in peace together and enjoy this beautiful world he made for us to live in?
George H. Waldron, USA

I am Indian, and my boyfriend is from Kenya. I've learnt a lot more about my own culture and his through this relationship -- it's brought perspective and depth to my relationship with him and with my own culture. It is definitely case-by-case, but ultimately what are now exceptions will enable greater cultural understanding -- which can only be a good thing.
SS, India

I am hispanic American and my wife is Nigerian. We are both Catholic and by the grace of God our bond has lasted 7 years. If you marry an African woman, strong leadership will bring praise. Respect will bring longevity.
Peter Riley, USA

Over 50 years ago my east Indian Hindu mother ran from her father's London home with only the sari on her back to join my black Egyptian(nubian) muslim father. Eventually they made their way to Trinidad where 6 children where born. Child 1 married a Nigerian, Number 2 married a Russian, Number 3 married a Chinese, Number 4 married an Italian/ Somali, Number 5 married an African American, and I, number 6 married an Afro Hispanic. Almost 60 years later and we are all still going strong. The best part is a picture my mom took with all her grandkids it shows that my family is the world!!
Faizah Assad, USA

I'm a British born white woman living in the US in a relationship of three years with a Sierra Leonean black Muslim man. The difficulties have been mainly cultural misunderstandings, but when communication is open and both parties respect and accept the other's religion and culture, it can prove to be rewarding both intellectually, spiritually, and above all prove that people with all backgrounds can come together as one and learn from one another. May be the old saying is correct, "love conquers all". Our families have stepped up to the plate and accepted our choices because in the end, they just want to see both of us happy. The world is becoming smaller and smaller and it is time we all started acting like the world is our home, not just the country we reside in.
Lisa, US

Being involved in a mixed race relationship has proven to be both difficult and yet extremely rewarding for me. I am a white Canadian woman who has been involved with a black man from Sierra Leone for about a year. During our relationship we have encountered people from both races who don't like seeing us together in public, including some members of his own family. Thankfully, my entire family adores him and supports us 100%. To be honest I don't know how things will work out between us in the long run as there are some cultural differences we have to work out, but that aside I am quite determined not to let others tell us we shouldn't be a couple. Being with him has enabled me to learn about his African culture and he has had to learn about mine as well, although his language lessons are going better than mine! All I can tell others is that no one can determine who they fall in love with and that no one has the right to tell us who we can love and be with.
Corissa, Canada

If you are still bound by clan and family, all the better for a steadier relationship. The young may find differences challenging and fascinating, but may lack the patience to overcame some difficulties.
Marco, Ethiopia

The world is becoming smaller and smaller and it is time we all started acting like the world is our home, not just the country we reside in
Lisa, US

I've been in an inter-racial marriage for six years. My husband is Nigerian. If you want it to work, it will work.
Kari Umana, USA

The ancestral roots of KV and Priti are of two great countries and peoples. Their union can only strengthen their countries, their peoples, and themselves. They are both wished well and much happiness.
Wayne A. Philp, US

The problem with parents of mixed race couples arises because most are not familiar with each other's culture. Women and men are the same every where. It's just the social setting that makes the difference.
Mike, Norwegian/Nigeria

Mixed marriages never work because one culture will portray itself as superior, sooner or later
Simon Gath, Belgium

I am in a mixed race relationship. I think it is idiotic for people to be concerned about something as arbitrary as skin tone. "Race" is an artificial non-scientific construct.
Stephanie, USA

I've been in an inter-racial relationship for six years. We dated for five and then got married. We had no problems with our families. We have noticed some people act funny in public and also when we first introduce one another.
John Craven, USA

The colour of the skin doesn't matter when love is there.
Fodzo Tchemwe, France

I am a white American and my husband is Nigerian. There have been times when people have said things or given us looks. Someone once asked me if our son was adopted, when I said no, she asked again, in such a way that showed her intentions to make me feel awkward. I always try to think positively about it. Our family tree is diverse and interesting and those who don't like it were not asked ahead of time, which means that their opinions really don't have much effect on me.
Leah Chukwu, USA

Inter-racial marriages are not a bad thing. However, men involved must be aware of the pressure they would get from society. One may risk isolation from his own people and attract malice from the other side. This can be most severe when a normal domestic issue, typical of husband and wife, is given a racial connotation blowing everything out of proportion.
Zimbabwe

I think that those who are against inter-racial marriages have narrow minds and cannot see beyond the simple fact that race is only about skin color.
Nephat Oliech, USA

I am a black man married to a white American lady whom I love very much. I think that those who are against inter-racial marriages have narrow minds and cannot see beyond the simple fact that race is only about skin color. What is important is character, somebody who makes you happy and respects you. In my opinion you get the best of both worlds by having a mixed race family. Good luck to both KV and Priti.
Nephat Oliech, USA

My mother is an English expatriate and my father is third generation Japanese-American. They met in Africa and moved to California, where I was raised. California has always had an incredible diversity of cultures and ethnicities. But being a mixed race child, even in this jigsaw puzzle of genealogies, still causes a lot of confusion, not only for the individual but also for society. I was never sure which box I should check off on demographic information and census forms, "Asian" or "Caucasian." People would ask my mother if I was adopted. It was a strange sensation, because I felt as though I was not fully accepted as English or Japanese, and I was ashamed of both. It took me two decades to become comfortable in my own skin.
Robert Tashima, US

I am black and have not had a relationship with a person of a different race before, but have closely followed a friend, fellow black, who have had a relationship with a white girl. They live together in America where she comes from. He has told me that he has faced the following challenges from the girl's family: prejudice, hatred and racial discrimination. The mere fact that he was a black man hanging out with a girl from a well-to-do family made the family all the more furious. On a personal note, I feel that inter-racial marriages can work if the couple accept each other, are sincere with each other, disregard all tenets of prejudice, skin colour, culture and religion. Love is what matters.
Melvin Nahwo Nye, Harbel, Liberia

I am against inter-racial marriage. Why? Because if we keep mixing our race with others, 400 years from now, Africa will look like Brazil. We lost North Africa already, please let's keep the rest of Africa pure "black". I am not racist but I am conservative.
Patrick Mangassa, USA

Multicultural marriages will always have a hard time as long as institutions like yours promotes these out dated divisive concepts and lies. Grow up and take responsibility. These are the kind of ideas fuel conflicts around the word such as in Iraq and Israel.
Gary Ormsby, USA

I'm Nigerian and my husband is Irish. We have more in common than others I know from a similar racial background. We're both Catholic and that helps us see things from the same view point. Also, our families are very similar and share similar aspirations. My tip is, always get your mother-in-law on your side and the rest would be a doodle.
Anne, England

You marry whoever you fall in love with and you bring your children up to be stable and multi-cultured.
Benson Magaba, Zimbabwe

Out of six boys in one family, this is the current setting: Boy 1 married a half South African girl Boy 2 married a Botswanan girl Boy 3 married an English girl Boy 4 married a Malawian girl Boy 5 married a Ndebele Zimbabwean girl Boy 6 married a Shona Zimbabwean girl Nephew married a German girl Other nephew married an American girl. This is one large and happy family with the longest marriage clocking in at 27 years. No divorce yet in the family. All parents involved are happy with their children. Only our government shouts abuses at us. You marry whoever you fall in love with and you bring your children up to be stable and multi-cultured. The main problem is how to guard against home sickness for those who move away with their spouses.
Benson Magaba, Zimbabwe

I think if people around the world inter-marry, there would be no discrimination.
Michael Nuul Mayen, Manitoba, Canada

My boyfriend is from Nigeria, is black and a Muslim. I am a white Christian from England. Although there are obviously cultural differences, we find that it does not have to be a barrier between us. I respect that his religion is important to him and it is part of what I love about him. It would be easier if we were of the same race and religion but love crosses those barriers. I think that our families will support us because they know that the love between us makes us happy.
Helen Watson, England

Mixed races? What do you mean? Aren't we told these days that "races don't exist"? Or is that just a lie, then?
Ron Brownlow, UK

Of course interracial couples are subject to all kinds of pressures, both internal and societal. Their successes depend on economic conditions and interpersonal communication. The prejudice of others can compromise inter-racial marriage if the couple are already on a shaky ground. It is beneficial for an inter-racial couple to receive the approval of their respective families, however it is not necessarily relevant all the time. Race is a social construct it is not innate to humanity but rather a tool for conditioning others.
Emmanuel, USA

Mixed marriages are like any other marriage: To work you need a combination of good luck, determination and hard work. I am Nigerian and my wife is (White) English. There will, as in all marriages, be hard times - perhaps as a result of "cultural clashes". Mixed marriages don't break down as a result of a clash of cultures. They break down because couples can't choose their families and may forget why they got married in the first place. We have three beautiful children; we are blessed with wonderful families and we keep reminding ourselves everyday why we chose to spend the rest of our lives together.
Segun, UK

Inter-racial marriages would work if people looked beyond the colour of one's skin and see the person for what they are. Bigotry in any form is destructive. Therefore if two people supportive and in love choose to be together, what difference does it make what they look like?
Bill, US

Inter-racial relationships are going to happen regardless of what observers think. The fact is we are all in search of peace and happiness. If my family loves me and cares for my well being and happiness then I think I should be supported with my choice of partner that makes me happy not what they think does not make them happy. After-all I will be sharing my life not them.
Thy Will Koku Amenya, Ghana/US

My dad was a Dene (native Indian) and my mum was a child of French & Swedish immigrants. They married in the 1960's - a time of considerable racial prejudice in Canada - particularly against natives. They made it work by understanding that, for them, some of the problems in marriage would be cultural. To make such a marriage strong enough to withstand the outside pressures, a couple needs to assume that they can't assume - and talk, all the time, about everything.
M. Thompson, Canada

Although it makes sense to ask people who are actually in inter-racial relationships about them, that is not the whole story. In some sense it's like asking gay couples if same sex relationships work. Of course they work on some level for the people in them. That's why they are in them. However, that says nothing about why humans and other sexually reproducing animals breed preferentially within their own race, variety or subspecies.
USA

The key to any marriage is love, compatibility, and respect for each other.
Dr. Freddy Kustaa, USA

I do believe that for an inter-racial marriage to work, it depends on the foundation. If I find someone who really cares about me and doesn't bother about where I am from, we might end up in marriage. As a Nigerian living in California, all the females I date are from different races; Asians, Mexicans, Whites, etc. We should encourage real love, like that of Priti and KV, who have been together for nine years.
Stanley Njoku, Nigerian in US

I am Black and my wife is White. We have been married for 19 years. We have two handsome boys aged 11 and 18. In my view, my wife and I are happily married. Our marriage has gone through a number of problems that all marriages encounter regardless of the racial or ethnic backgrounds of couples. The key to any marriage is love, compatibility, and respect for each other. I think there is no proof that only couples from the same race or ethnic group have happier and lasting marriages than the so-called mixed ones. The divorce statistics in the United States and other countries among same race or ethnic group couples is a good proof of my statement above. Divorce and unhappy marriages occur among all married couples, not just the so-called mixed ones.
Dr. Freddy Kustaa, USA

Many inter-racial, inter-cultural, and inter-faith couples still experience a lot of pressures from family and community. Our world is not as open to these types of unions as we would like to believe. It is great that you are offering a chance for your listeners to discuss this important topic. I founded an organisation called Swirl a few years ago. It serves as an educational, social, and support network for mixed race couples, families, individuals, and transracial adoptees. We are now a national organisation with chapters across the US, and even an international chapter in Japan. Although many couples still experience what Priti and KV have faced, there are at least communities and resources out there that couples may contact for advice and support!
Jen Chau, USA

Inter-racial marriage has always been subject to challenges both from the boy's and the girl's families. But I think it is time to change this view as people are increasingly coming together and building friendship/relationships. It is something that cannot be stopped by traditional attitudes towards such marriages. on the other hand, it is also an important source of harmony and co-operation between two group of people.
Husein, Ethiopia




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