“Dating is one thing, but marriage is another”, an aunty told me. Marriage and dating are two different things, clearly, but which factors are fundamental when deciding whom to marry? Love is love, as one of the respondents said, but is it better to stay within cultural boundaries to save ourselves from the potential future troubles that might result from mixing cultures – as some elders advice – or should one ignore boundaries and deal with issues if they arise? Having to decide which culture my children followed more or which one was dominant in my household is another consideration, as I find it important for reasons of identity.
African parents, don’t joke with them Young and not-yet-married Nowadays, in this current generation of young-and-not-yet-married, or recently married, we don’t so much as bat an eyelid when we see mixed couples, but as one uncle put it to me, “Where would you live when you retire? If you married a Nigerian, how would you cope if he wanted to retire in Nigeria? Parents’ generation In our parents’ generation we know marrying within their own culture – even tribe – was paramount as they tried to maintain cultural cohesion and identity.
Although India has experienced changes in its traditions in part due to Western influences, the culture has held steadfast to many of its traditions and customs.Dating as we Westerners think of it, involves trial and error.Our parents and our society encourage singles to go out with a number of different people.What applies to one region of India may not apply to another region.This is because India has about 29 states, each with a different language, customs etc.When I spoke to another Congolese person they understood me, but when I spoke to someone who didn’t speak my mother tongue, conversations couldn’t be as natural as I wanted them to be.A Ghanaian friend of mine told me “My (Jamaican) boyfriend really tried to speak my language because he realised that it was important to me.” Ethnic capital of the world For me, a twenty-something year old Congolese woman who grew up in the city of London – a city I like to call “the ethnic capital of Europe” – dating someone from a different culture was not a problem.If you can communicate with someone in a language that you both feel comfortable with, it makes being with that person easier.In Africa, those who speak the same language have a similar culture.An older woman asked me: “How many mixed cultured couples do you know who have grown old together?” True I didn’t know any mixed elderly couples, but perhaps this is because there is a greater diversity of Africans living in the diaspora than there were 30 years ago.