In the spirit of celebrating the girl child, let’s dig out some cultural facts about the girl child in Calabar. Some months ago, I had an enlightening gist with a friend, an indigene of Calabar and she made me realise that the girl child is more preferred than the boy child in Calabar. Are you surprised? I was, because it is ‘Unafrican’ or ‘Unnigerian’.
She said, when a baby is born and people generally inquire what the baby’s sex is. If the reply is ‘na boy’, the subsequent words will be ‘na carry money go’ (the boy child will take money out from the family). But if the new born baby is a female, everyone will be happy saying ‘na money she born” (the mother has given birth to someone who will bring riches to the family).
It is believed that the female child will grow up and will get married. So, through her marriage, money comes to her birth family from her husband. One will think the bride price will be really expensive no it’s not. The bride’s father can collect a bride price of 50/70 Naira amidst all other things for bride price.
Money making reality sets in when the female child is now married and she gives birth to a child especially a girl child, then the bride’s family will make demand for amount of money ranging from hundred of thousands to Millions from the husband/ father of the newborn.
While some other cultures prioritise the male child, the Calabar culture prioritise the female child as it is culturally expected that the female child takes care of her birth family through her husband’s money. So, a male child focuses on taking care of his wife’s birth family, leaving his own birth family to the graciousness of another man who marries his sister(s).
In this cycle, the girl child’s mother is mainly the subject of the husband’s benevolence which explains one of the reasons why there are more female house owners in that part of Nigeria because most husbands build houses for their Mother-in-laws.
Yes, this culture’s rationale stemmed from money, they view the female child as a means of making money which makes them place more value on the female child. This leads us to motive. Can we wholly say the culture’s motive is wrong hence disqualify the their value of the girl child?
I think it’s not too much to advocate for right cultural value system that values the girl child and boy child respectively and accords gender equality in the society.
What do you think?