The Bride Price

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The Bride Price

The Bride Price is a tale of love and the culture and traditions that stand between it in a small close-knit town in Africa. A young girl named Aku-nna unexpectedly falls in love with her schoolteacher, Chike, the son of a former slave. Both know this love cannot be; the people of Ibuza forbid the daughter of a free man to wed the son of a slave, and besides, Aku-nna's mother and father have plans for her to marry a rich classmate whom she despises. Chike and Aku-nna, however, decide to pursue their love, and they challenge tradition and elope. The theme of the novel is that old traditions can be challenged and replaced, however uneasily, while other old customs sometimes prevail over the new.

In the time the story was set, old African traditions were colliding with a surge of modern European customs. After Aku-nna's father, Nna, died the funeral was a prime example of a European-African custom clash. The narrator writes, "Ezekiel Odia's funeral was, like all such ceremonies in colonial Africa, a mixture of the traditional and the European. Emphasis was always placed on the European aspect. The European ways were considered modern, the African old-fashioned. Lagos culture was such an unfortunate conglomeration of both that you ended up not knowing to which you belonged." The Christian and pagan religions to which he both belonged rivaled each other to sit in a place of honor and chant their hymns. Another section of the novel states that, "This was the age of the white man's law. The white man had come to stay, and this culture seemed to be gaining ground; so if you did not want trouble for yourself or your family, you abided by the laws of the white man." One new European law made it so that if Ma Blackie [Aku-nna's mother] wanted to claim Aku-nna's bride price, she would succeed over her second husband. This law overrode Ibuza traditions that stated that all of a woman's belongings were inherited by her husband....
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