Even today some marriages are by proxy, some involve a dowry (bride's family giving money or presents to the groom or his family), some require a bride price (the groom or his family giving money or a present to the bride's family), few may have any sort of courtship or dating, but most have deep-rooted traditions.
One nearly universal marriage tradition is that of the engagement ring.
However, these traditions are not as strong as they used to be and as African women become aware of how women in other parts of the world live, they have begun to expect more from thier relationships.
For instance, in Nigeria, women, especially educated women, are increasingly rebelling against the system of village elders demanding a bride-price, as they consider that this makes women into a commodity.
By the end of their dinner at a small Italian restaurant in New York’s West Village, Leah is getting antsy to part ways with her boyfriend Ryan, so that she can go meet up with her boyfriend Jim.
It’s not that she means to be rude, it’s just that Jim has been traveling for work, so it’s been a while since she’s seen him. As her “primary partner” and the man with whom she lives, he is the recipient of most of Leah’s attention, sexual and otherwise, but he understands her need to seek companionship from other quarters roughly one night a week.
Most couples didn't marry because they were in love but for economic liaisons.
The people involved didn't then and don't today have much to say about the decision.
The growth of African dating opportunities is thus the result of an increasing sense of equality between men and women in Africa.
In Ivory Coast, for example, the status of women has been gradually improving since the middle of the twentieth century, with various pieces of legislation being passed allowing women to divorce their husbands, enabling couples to marry without parental consent, and in 1983 allowing women to control more of their property after marriage.
A few days ago, as an American friend of mine was telling me all about her new boyfriend and how he had asked her out with flowers, I realized how different courtship and dating is for teens in France and the US. Americans go on formal dates; we keep things secret. The word “date” has no equivalent in French, and it’s simply because we don’t go on them.