Once I asked an elderly man why they asked such questions, asserting that a human being is a human being and where he or she comes from does not really matter when it comes to matters of the heart. His response was, “Well…if we have to travel for funerals, we consider the distance too”; that was really flimsy.
The truth is that as a people we have lived with stereotypes: Fantes are like this or Ewes are like that, and sadly these stereotypes are perpetuated by even the most educated.
Dr John Boakye, director of Eudoo Counselling Centre, says inter-tribal marriage has its genuine cultural conflicts because each tribe has its own beliefs and expectations of marriage. The wider the cultural conflicts, the greater the potential for conflicts.
There is also the problem of lineage. For example, Gas, Ewes and Northerners inherit along paternal lines while the Akans inherit along maternal lines.
If an Akan man marries a Ga or Ewe woman, their children traditionally are lost because they do not belong anywhere.
Studies show partners in inter-tribal marriages have lower support from friends, family members and the society.
Sometimes the resistance of parents is so high many go back to their hometown to marry their kind, secretly or openly, to please their extended family members.
Inter-tribal marriages, therefore, have a greater risk of marital dissatisfaction and divorce.
Apart from the above, may I add that living with a partner whose family members do not accept you for the fact that you do not belong to their kind is a pain that one may want to avoid should you know from the beginning.
Dr Boakye, however, said love does not know tribe, and you may find yourself falling in love with someone outside your tribe; today, inter-tribal marriages are on the increase.
He advises that if you meet someone you love but who comes from a different tribe, do this: go after him or her relentlessly and track him or her down as long as you truly love each other.
Your parents may show initial resistance but if you are patient and your lover proves himself or herself to be a good person, in almost all cases, the tribal factor will die and you could have a fulfilling marriage.
I must add that the couple-to-be’s willingness to commit to each other supersedes the parent’s desire to marry from one’s hometown or tribe. It is about love, and nothing else
Both man and woman must be committed to make it work, that is what matters; be committed to defend your partner within your family and be committed to the decision to stay together
If your partner feels unaccepted within your family, it is your responsibility to ensure that your family knows that that is where your heart, and for that matter your love, is. If they love you, they need to love your spouse.
Besides, human beings are human beings, black or white, Ewe or Akan, so why discriminate based on tribal lines and what is there to be gained from discriminating this way apart from contributing to make two love birds unhappy?
Let me add that inter-tribal marriages will encourage unity and national cohesion, which are very much needed at this point in our nation’s history. It could help to encourage growth, social interaction, and reduce tribal and ethnic conflicts. Therefore, there is no gainsaying that there is every need to encourage such marriages.
I love the phrase “unity in diversity”, and accepting to love a person who is not from your tribe and spend the rest of your life with is maturity.
As Christians, we learn a lot from what our master Jesus Christ did: he did not die for only Jews; His death was also inter-tribal. That whosoever receives Him, be it Jews, Ewe, Akan, Northerner, British, American should not perish but have everlasting life.
Remember that the basis of the family is this: that a man will leave his father and mother and cleave onto his wife and the two shall become one. You are entitled to start you own family in your own unique way. Tribe does not really matter; what matters is love.
Hannah Awadzi (Mrs)
Senior Journalist (Communications Specialist)
Ghana News Agency (GNA)
Executive Director: Special Mothers Project
(Advocacy on cerebral palsy issues)