Ever since my decision to get married became public knowledge, I have had to lend my ears to wonderful and wonder-filled speeches from the Elders! Our people say (I’m sure an Elder coined this one) that, “what the young man cannot see standing on an Iroko tree, an Elder has already seen it from afar sitting”. Sorry if I sound sarcastic here – probably because when that Elder saw what he saw, we never had binoculars and computerized systems that could easily allow you see what you want to see when you want to see it even if it’s a million miles away from you. Enough said. Back to the Elders’ speeches (it certainly wasn’t one!)
We (my fiancé and I) had the opportunity to visit some Elders to acquaint them of our intentions and this is what some had to say;
Elder 1: “In our days, we never had divorce (I agree with you Elder cos we aren’t planning for one either), if you were married to Mr. A, you stayed married to him for life. So please look at him/her very well and decide if this is who you want because I certainly won’t entertain you in my house if you come with an ‘em-Uncle-something-has-gone-wrong’ story.”
He went further to narrate how he has been with his wife for many years and now the kids are grown, all he has left is his wife and the love of his kids. So he gladly stays with her and they go farming together. He kicked against wife-battery and told us of his sibling that had to endure abuse and he got tired of mediating and advised his sibling to fight back when next her hubby hit her or else he’d disown her. She did and he got someone arrested. After cooling off in cell for a week, the hubby never raised his hands against the wife again and always mentioned his name as a ‘Saviour’ when it came to keeping his marriage and home…Ironic he had to learn the hard way!
Elder 11: “In marriages, there’s sweetness as well as bitterness, but marriages are usually filled with bitterness except you know how to handle it!” She kept on repeating this and also advising against two-timing and fights or third-party involvement. At this point my fiancé cut the Elder short and pleaded with her to pray blessings on us rather than give premonition of doom. That we are different and will by God’s grace do what is right, respect and love one another.
Watching each Elder speak, I decided that though they both (and the others not mentioned here) praised marital union and highlighted its woes too. They successfully pointed us to the fact that they are still married to who they started the journey with; clearly hid the truth that at one point someone felt like leaving and following another person with bags packed or just “up and away” because of having had enough of the other’s mess (though Elder 11 mentioned this in passing)!
More than that, I came to the realization that we will certainly have our struggles which might be different from theirs and we might handle it differently from the way they handled theirs and still come to a peaceful conclusion. And that some time soon, we will also become Elders and give our own speeches and these speeches might be perceived as useful or a waste of time by the young man/woman listening (or pretending to listen) to us! Therefore, this is getting me prepared ahead of time – what legacy do I want to leave behind enough to be worth sharing with another. Thank you my dearest Elders, we appreciate your wisdom and salute your faithfulness and certainly will make you proud!
© Frances Kelvin Otung 2010