Page last updated at 15:58 GMT, Thursday, 11 September 2008 16:58 UK

Pressure and prayers over marriage

Composite of women taken by BBC News website readers

Nigerian writer and recording artist, Olushola Dada, 29, tells the BBC's Africa Have Your Say programme what it is like being single, ambitious and female in Africa and if society's view on marriage is changing.

The pressure starts when you turn 25.

No-one will say you are a failure because you are not married yet but the pressure does begin.

You have graduated from university and then everyone naturally expects you to get married and settle down.

People wonder about the individuals that you spend time with and whether or not they may be 'the one'.

Even when you go to church: it is taken as given that church is a good place to meet a suitable husband. Everyone starts checking if someone notices you, finds you interesting.

Everyone even says prayers for you to be married.

You haven't made it

And so the pressure grows. And then the more successful you become, the more society frowns.

Today's African woman have generally lost touch and lack the character of submission to live with a man
Macaulay Akinbami, Lagos

Society looks at you, and it doesn't matter how successful you may be - if you have your own house, a car, how much you earn...

If you don't have a husband, then within the community, you haven't made it.

I have always been someone who believes that you do not have to get married for the sake of it and I do not put myself under pressure.

Yes, I do want to marry one day; and yes, I definitely want to have children.

But I do not see getting married as an achievement.


I see it as a life choice - something that you accept if it comes to you and enriches your life.

If it comes to you but lessens you - puts you in a box or takes something away from you, then you should not take it.

Most of my girlfriends, though, the ones who are my age or older, do not have the same attitude as me - most of my single friends are anxious to get married.

Unlike me.

The thing is though, here in Nigeria, every woman is brought up in a traditional manner. Even if you go through social studies school text books you will see how the roles of men and women are outlined:

The father must be greeted in the morning, father gives you money... and the mother cooks, the mother nurses the baby, the mother cleans.

More free

So you are almost trained to take up that role.

If you are a woman, you must feel privileged to be educated but then after that you must wed and 'build' a home.

I think that this is quite standard for most parts of the world where there are strong spiritual and cultural influences.

Although I have never travelled out of Nigeria, I get the idea that women in some other parts of the world are more free.

Women should not have to place marriage before their life. Women have to learn to be individuals first.

Like men. A man will get married and make sure it works for him - I hear Nigerian men saying how they must get married so they can have someone to wash for them, clean for them, cook for them, etc.

Conscious choice

They have the attitude that marriage will make their life easier. So should we as women. Otherwise it is not worth it.

I feel woman have to make a conscious choice to break away and be their own individual.

Maybe it is because of my own personal experience with my parents. In particular, from observing my mum:

She gave her whole life to her marriage and today she has a lot of unfulfilled dreams.

I do not think she feels it was worth it; and that has definitely affected me. If marriage is going to fulfil my life and add to it in a way that nothing else can then sure, I will have it.

But if not, no.

So far, I have not found that my career has suffered because of my views but that might be because of the sector I work in. I can imagine there are lots of women in other lines of work that do.

But that it is up to the individual too.

It is my life and I am not going to give up my dreams.

If you would like to join Africa Have Your Say to debate this topic LIVE on air on Thursday 11 September at 1600 GMT, please include a telephone number. It will not be published. You can also send an SMS text message to +44 77 86 20 20 08.

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