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Chidlessness in marriage: a review of the challenges it poses to contemporary Igbofamilies, Nigeria

Author: 
Profs Obi Desmond Obioma and Chris Ukachukwu Manus
Subject Area: 
Life Sciences
Abstract: 

One of the most desirable and honorable values of Igbo marriage system is life, “ndu” and child “nwa”. There is no doubt that marriage has a very significant place in human society. It not only brings two different individuals together in a union of love and companionship, it also brings two families and the extended family members together. Marriage ensures continuation of the human race by way of procreation. This paper ex-rays, among other things, one of the most remarkable values in contemporary African family; namely the gift of children: as the Igbo express in their language: that Nwaka-ego – a child is valued more than money or that Nwadi-uto- a child gives joy and happiness; etc. Sociological and phenomenological methods are adopted to show to what extent the problem of childlessness has affected the African family; especially that among the Igbo of southeast Nigeria. After discussing the concept of marriage in the African society through these tools of research, the paper questions the reason why some African couples could not be blessed with a child-bearing is since it is accepted as blessing from God. After exposing the causes of childlessness the paper goes on to discuss some challenges of childlessness in African contemporary family situation. The paper goes on to draw attention of the readers some ways and means of meeting some of these challenges; namely through new scientific developments, adoption, pastoral counseling and others. Our paper also reveals, among other things, that childlessness remains the prime cause of crisis and instability in many marriages in contemporary African society. It points out that childlessness on many occasions affects the love and happiness which couples ordinarily should enjoy in their union of matrimony.

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