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Say what you like about marriage, at least it protects you against some of the vagaries of life

By Nina Steele 

Getting marriedTwo days ago, the Ivory Coast lost one of its most talented artists, aged just 33. His stage name was DJ Arafat (Born Ange Didier Houon). He was also a motorbike enthusiast, and sadly that’s what killed him in the end. He died from injuries he sustained in a road accident while riding. Hours after his death was announced, people were already discussing what would happen to his money, since he was not legally married to the partner he has left behind. They do have a child together.

It may sound deeply insensitive, but I am afraid that’s usually how things work in Africa when money is involved. Mind you, it’s not just Africa, it happens pretty much everywhere these days, which always puzzles me as to why people take the chance of living together without the insurance that marriage provides.

I have said it time and time again, life is unpredictable, it can all end in an instant. None of us know when death will come calling. So why take a chance? If you like each other enough to live together, then why not make it legal? Since none of us know what the future holds, why not err on the side of caution by protecting each other?

I do understand that some people do not believe in the institution of marriage and for that reason would rather live together without it. It’s all good, until one of you dies and then suddenly, the person left behind is made to feel as though all the years they spent with the now departed were worth nothing. In Africa, it’s not uncommon for a woman to be turfed out of the house she shared with her partner, by his family, the minute the man dies. There are stories after stories like that, all over the continent.

As I grow older, I am noticing a deep change in me. I hate drama and anything that gets in the way of my peace. I started paying attention to the strength of those feelings in recent years. Something in my DNA has changed to the point that I am now completely averse to anything that leads to suffering. Of course some suffering cannot be avoided, but anything that is in my power to change, I will change. That’s often what happens when you grow up in a toxic environment. You either repeat those behaviours as an adult or you completely reject them.

Which brings me back to the peace of mind marriage gives. I cannot imagine myself living with a man for a long period of time without marriage, particularly when there are assets involved. It’s too much of a risk to take.

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