Bride Price and the State of Marriage in North-West Ghana

John Boulard Forkuor, Vincent de Paul Kanwetuu, Eugene Muobom Ganee, Ignatus Kpobi Ndemole


This paper sought to examine the role of bride price on the state of marriage among the Dagara of North-West Ghana. In the face of increasing scarcity of the items used in marriage in the study area, getting bride price has become a daunting task for many young men preparing to marry or already in marriage with consequences on the legitimacy and stability of families. Through purposive sampling, 5 FGDs and 9 personal interviews were conducted to obtain experiential information on bride price and state of marriage. The study revealed that the role of families, payback norms and incorporation (as part of bride price payment) are clear structures that have positive consequences for the stability of marriage; weakening potentially destabilising factors such as spousal abuse and the extra-marital sexual activities of men. Interestingly, the type and amount of items used for bride price have so much social and cultural significance that formal education and modernity has so far failed to completely change this practice among the people. The preceding allows us to conclude that the Dagara of Buo community are an epainogamous people, with societally supported marital norms and systems leading to marital stability. We recognise however that stability and longevity of marriage does not necessarily mean that spouses are ‘happy and content’ with their marriage. This is a relevant question that our current study did not explore. Thus, we recommend that a future quantitative study examine the relationship between marital stability and spousal ‘happiness and contentment.’

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International Journal of Social Science Studies   ISSN 2324-8033 (Print)   ISSN 2324-8041 (Online)

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