MANY PEOPLE, especially those who married in the 1950s and 60s had their spouses from their villages or regions closer to where they were brought up. Even those who were working in towns usually went back home to find a woman to marry from among their people. This trend wascommon because people felt a close affinity to their tribes and regions than they do now.Generally, upon retirement many returned to their homeland to reunite with their kindred and settle there. Not only that, marriages then were often arranged by family elders who wanted to keep the tribal connection intact and also to ensure that children don’t get ‘lost’ in the event that one spouse died. There may be other reasons for this. Zambians then were more tribal-centric than they are now.

And apparently, there are some marriages that have survived turbulences because husband and wife are of the same tribe. Couples from the same region or tribe seem to have fewer cultural conflicts than those of a mixed pair. Perhaps this was one reason why the older generation wanted to marry from their tribe.

Today, however, things have changed. We have people marrying from any tribe or region. This is so because urbanization and migration has brought everyone to live close to people from every corners of this country, a situation that has made intermarriages very common these days. This cross culture marriage has helped in many ways, for example; children of such couples become a new breed of Zambians without tribal biases. Many times we have seen politicians during election campaigns appealing to regions to woo voters. At other times politicians have passed tribal sentiments that has had potential for anarchy. But God forbid, we need as many people marrying from other tribes to enhance national unite and hopefully obliterate tribal prejudices. Learning to co-exist helps a community to develop fast. We are One Zambia, One Nation.

Needless to say, many Zambian cultures are similar and often cross paths. With Christianity taking center stage and rapid urbanization, much of what differentiates us will no longer be a hindrance.

While the above is true, inter-marriages may have their own hitches. I know of a case where a couple from two different tribes could not agree on how to bury their departed child because one of them could not agree on burial rituals. Such cases are common, not only during burials, but other instances where culture and tradition clash.I know of another inter-tribal marriage where the husband retired and wanted to go back home, but the wife, for some reasons, was not willing to follow the husband to his village. They ended up divorcing.

We have tried to look at the pros and cons of inter-marriage, now let’s look at how to get along in an inter-tribal marriage.

1. Remember that you married an individual, not a tribe. Love is blind and so we need to overlook what separates us and hold on to what binds us. I cited a case above of a couple who divorced because they could not agree on were to settle after retirement. Such a case would not have occurred if this couple had been communicating well in their marriage. Learn to discuss all pertinent issues with your spouse during the course of your marriage.
2. Put family first. As a couple, make it your uttermost ambition that your children’s welfare is more important than any temporary gratifications. Divorce for any reason would harm children than it would the mother or father. Set your values to protect the interest of children, no matter what.
3. Seek counsel from others. In life you’ll sometimes meet challenges that may require help from others. Don’t be shy to seek counsel from those who could help.
4. Find yourself in church or mosque. Belonging to a church fellowship is very profitable as the teaching from the Bible encourages unit and not co-existence.
5. Keep relatives out of your marriage. As Africans it’s common for relatives to want to have a say in your marriage. Do not allow this.

Marriage, now and then has a lot of similarities and differences but one underlying ingredient is love. If there’s genuine love in a marriage then many of the problems that we face every day can be overcome. Stay blessed.

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