In the Ghanaian tradition as with many other African, Asian and some eastern European traditions, a groom is required to pay a bride price to the family of his bride as a show of his commitment and ability to financially support his prospective wife. Centuries ago, the bride price was quoted in gold, land, cows, tubers of yam and pots of palm wine. In recent times the price has been demanded in money, cloths and bottles of gin and schnapps. Evidently, bride prices are demanded in items that are of high value in the prevailing economic circumstance.
One family is reportedly asking a 27 year old Ghanaian man to cough up 100 gallons of petrol if he is to be given the green light to marry their daughter. Kofi Ghanaba, a university graduate working for a bank in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, has confirmed the family of his girlfriend is demanding 100 gallons of petrol as bride price. “I have been with her for a while now, we are very much in love so we wanted to do the right thing and get married. Tradition requires that I pay a dowry to her family. When I received the list from her father, I was expecting the usual items; ring, cloths, money and bottles of gin and schnapps. To my surprise, there was only one item on the list. Just one! I smiled to myself. But before long, my smile had turned into wailing. 100 gallons of petrol is what they wanted and it wasn’t just any type of petrol, they demanded Shell V-Power,” revealed the dejected man.
A spokesman for the girlfriend’s family explained that the demand for 100 gallons of fuel is not just a sign of the ever increasing value of fuel due to the recurring shortages, but also a test to determine if Kofi can adequately take care of their daughter. “If he loves our daughter he wouldn’t mind queuing for days to buy the gallons of fuel we require.” The spokesman argued that their request is no different from what happened centuries ago when young men had to spend years growing crops and raising animals to be able to pay the bride price for the girl of their dreams.
With fuel prices up by 53% since the beginning of the year, Kofi’s shrewdness will be put to test, according to the family spokesman. “With the frequent increases in fuel prices, will he decide to buy now or wait and see if prices drop? His decision will give us an insight into how well he will manage his home in the future.” The demand for 100 gallons will also test Kofi’s physical strength. “It will require great physical strength to carry 100 gallons, and we will be looking to see how Kofi fares on that.”
With the worsening economic situation, Kofi Ghanaba is not just feeling the pinch in his pocket but also in his heart as he battles to marry the girl of his dreams.