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Sunday, May 15th, 2016

Traditional Rulers

Then: Any qualified Prince could indicate an interest in the throne and the oracle had the final say.

Now: The oracle picks from a shortlist of Tycoons, Lawyers, Academics and retired service men. Unemployed or poor Princes need not apply.


Then: The sun indicated day and when the moon rose it was night-time. Simple.

Now: Rolex, Omega, Breguet, Vacheron and the one you ‘never truly own but hold in trust for the next generation’ (Pateke Phillippe)


Then: Foot. If you were rich a horse or camel.

Now: Choices range from Toyota ‘Tokunbo’  to Limousines. Whatever you can afford.


Then: In your dreams. Or those times when you had too much of Mama Bruno’s ‘Ogogoro’.  Or if you were a witch, but you had to be back before dawn.

Now: You can board a flying object, sleep and wake up on the other side of the world.


Then: The town cryer. It could also be Papa Ngozi who put out everyone’s business anytime he was drinking Mama Ngozi’s palm-wine. Auntie Jemila also had a story to tell every day. And it was never hers.

Now: Facebook, blogs, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and other things you have probably never heard of. All useful for breaking news of any kind. Very useful levelers and equal opportunity offenders.


Then: There was the Rotary dial phone, the one you used your finger to move clockwise. You could also go to Mr Jegede’s house on Saturday night (he had the only telephone on the street) and wait in line with others to call your ‘Broda Kenny’ in London.

Now: One cell phone for work, one for family, one for your business  and one for Bukola with the big……………….


Then: Able bodied men went to war, and came back as heroes or they died and were mourned as heroes. The clever ones, when they lost their battles, never came back but simply wandered off to ‘found’ a new town in a wilderness somewhere.

Now: Huge, questionably-bodied men sit in their offices and eat all the weapons and soldiers.



Then: Only one or two wise men in the community knew what the gods were thinking or needed. You had to take their word for it. Somehow the wise men got it right. There was peace and order.

Now: Everyone knows what God is thinking, thanks to the religious industrial complex and the vast human and financial resources at their disposal.


Entertainment and Celebrations

Then: Celebrations were a way of life. They usually involved everyone in the community and they all came together to celebrate each other’s milestones. Everyone brought something so that the host or hostess was not unduly burdened. Invitations were unnecessary. Everything was for everyone.

Now: Celebrations are still a way of life. One group of people come together to celebrate, while another stays outside to gawk at the guests and beg them for money. Invitations are absolutely necessary and nothing is for everyone.



Then: This depended on the community. Mostly, the King died and what happened after was mostly the business of the King Makers, the Oracle, the Diviner, the Princes, and other members of the royal family. The only thing that really concerned the community was the date of the coronation because they had to provide the food, drink and entertainment. In some sophisticated political systems (Old Oyo Empire) bad Kings were given the option of suicide. They always took up the offer.

Now: People join a ‘Political Party’. They contest and win, or they lose, then they ‘decamp’ so they can contest again. If they win they stay, if they lose, they leave. When you win, everyone is your friend. When you lose, you are everyone’s enemy.



Then: If you studied to be a Teacher you had a job for life. Your education made you the village Doctor, Financial Adviser, Consultant, Counsellor, and so on. Your services were paid in cash, foodstuff, and livestock. You also had your pick of village maidens.

Now: You spend an astronomical amount of money on your education. Then you spend an astronomical amount of time looking for a job. No one wants to pay you in cash, rice or chickens, and no maidens are swooning for penniless you.



Then: Mother decides it is time for her son to marry. She discusses the matter with her friend who has a daughter. They strike a deal. If there is a need to look elsewhere for a bride or groom, enquiries are made to check for hereditary diseases or a history of debt. This is the point at which skeletons are unearthed.

Now: Father and Mother are informed of the wedding date. It is only necessary to tell them because they have to pay for it.


Wedding Announcements

Then: You got a phone call or letter written on nice stationery or an invitation card.

Now: ‘Save the date’ text. Invitation cards are only for the VIPs. Check out the pre-wedding photo shoot in Dubai or Paris. In case you were wondering, the bride’s dress is a Vera Wang. If you need to ask what/who that is, you are not posh enough to attend the wedding.



Then: Beautiful bride calmly glides in to the reception on the arm of her handsome husband to the music of Lionel Ritchie, Stevie Wonder or Gloria Estefan. They cut the cake and feed each other, striking a graceful pose with arms entwined. They also share a glass of Champagne or sparkling wine the same way.

Now: Beautiful bride dances in to the reception with her handsome husband. Olamide’s Shakiti Bobo, Iyanya’s Kukere, and Kcee’s Baby Pull Over are hot favourites. There is a serious dance off, which usually leaves the bride sweating, her lovely gown sweeping the floor, and her make-up running. Her Chief Bridesmaid is not available to help because she is trying to take a selfie with one of the Governors. When it is time for the cake and first drink, the bride promptly goes on her knees to show the whole world she will be a ‘submissive’ wife.



Then: Pre-wedding and wedding activities, whilst enjoyed by all, had nothing to do with a successful marriage.

Now: The wedding and marriage are the same thing.

Then: Man married woman. He provided for her, protected her, respected her and expected her to submit to him as head of the family.

Now: Man marries woman. He does not provide for her, does not protect her, does not respect her and expects her to submit to him as head of the family.

Then: Woman married man. She cared for him, bore children, suffered in silence when man abused her. Sometimes when it got too much, she left, but was persuaded to return. She was hard working, and she even gave him money. However, he used her money to marry other wives. She could not complain to friends because they all had their own challenges.

Now: Woman marries man. She cares for him, bears children but does not suffer in silence when man abuses her. When it gets too much she leaves and will not be persuaded to return. Her money will not be available for him to marry other wives. She will complain to friends who a) understand because they have similar challenges, b) are happy because she has challenges, why should she ‘have it all’ or c) will simply be there for her because she needs them, and they know that one day it might be their turn.

All the institutions that shape our lives have changed, some for better some for worse. Why should the institution of marriage be any different?  Time does not stop for anyone.  Roles, obligations, responsibilities and contexts all change over time. There are however things that remain constant – love, mutual respect, trust and understanding.  Man, man up. Woman, silence is not always golden. Men, times have changed. Women, be your sister’s keeper.

Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a Gender Specialist, Social Entrepreneur and Writer. She is the Founder of, an online community for women. She can be reached at



11 Responses

  1. All we need is prayers in dis world of ours 2 set priorities right and God wl help us coz its taking over time. God bless U ma 4 dis beau write up

  2. U re absolutely right ma, abt d issue of marriage I jst can’t help but smile sometimes when I see gud pple suffer all in d name of marriage.

  3. Nice writeup ma…Prayer!Prayer!!
    …..we of cuz cant do without God’s intervention…. We should all cultivate the habit of praying not only on Sundays ‘tho .

  4. Wonderful piece this is. The bottom line i think is about the changes we have to adapt to in marriage. I like the statement “they strike a deal” when analysing the “then” of pre-weddings.The question for the “now” is who are those striking the deals? The about to be bride and groom or the parents? How does these affect the marriage or home as a whole? Let’s discuss.

  5. Lovely write up! Yh, the world has quite evolved; and yes even marriages and homes are also well affected by global civilization. But then, this institution is quite different from others and delicate. Marriage is like making omelet with two eggs: If one egg is bad, the omelet will definitely turn out bad. Hence, whether then or now, the joy and success of a marriage are dependent on both parties. Some people will be seeing traces of things they don’t like in their spouse while dating/courting, yet they’ll overlook and expect the man to change in marriage…how is that possible? The only factor that can make a marriage work successfully is when a woman marries a man that is totally submitted to God and is filled with his love. He’ll know how to love u like his maker does. And most definitely, the result can’t be less than awesome, for this woman will produce the fruit of that love. So, as a woman it’s best to let God lead u, so u don’t end up with a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I’m not married, but I’ve learnt my lessons in relationship.

  6. This just took me through time travel and yes we all need sisters because only them can see the thorn through our smile

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