Monday December 4 2017

Here is a law to ban wedding receptions

man, expected, bride price, in-laws’ blessing, daughter

Depending on where you come from in this country, a man will be expected to part with bride price to receive his in-laws’ blessing to take their daughter. COURTESY PHOTO 

By Myles Mukisa

For the politically unschooled who may not yet know, this country’s legislature has spent nearly three months now fixated over just one proposed legislation.

I am old enough to know that discussing the merits or demerits of that proposed legislation is like handling ignited dynamite. So while I will not join the chorus of voices on either side of the debate, I hereby present proposed legislation, which our House could have passed in these past 90 days, to the great benefit of the stability and inviolability of the family, our most important political unit.

After personal differences, the main reason why men are continuing to steal from the cookie jar without making the requisite lifetime legal commitment for it is societal and financial impediments. Our appetites for luxury and glamour at weddings have inadvertently damaged wedding prospects for many.

Depending on where you come from in this country, a man will be expected to part with bride price to receive his in-laws’ blessing to take their daughter. It is called ‘bride price’ and not ‘bride token’ because it is supposed to cost you an arm and a leg.

If the average annual income per person in Uganda is $720 (Shs2.628m), it will take the average Ugandan two years of saving every single penny he earns to pay for five cows at Shs1m each to secure a wife.

This, however, is a modest estimate. In the proposed Anti-Luxury Wedding Act, a ceiling will be levied on bride price across the country so that it becomes illegal to solicit and pay more than one currency point, which currently stands at Shs20,000, for a wife. With this, even those fellows who live on one US dollar a day will finally have capacity to save Shs100 for a year and pay for a wife.

Assuming the traditional hurdles have been cleared, which also come with at least two ceremonies in which in laws are feted with yet more gifts, the man eventually has to seal it with a wedding in church and a reception for the guests.

Churches now charge as much as Shs500,000 to hold a wedding service. This is scandalous to say the least. In the proposed legislation, it will be illegal for churches to charge a fee for a wedding service; they should do this as part of their community mandate, just like they do not charge fees for holding Sunday services.

The reception is where our hunger for pomp and glamour becomes self-destructive. Married couples are wallowing in debt because they had to pay Shs15m to decorate a wedding venue. In the Anti-Luxury Wedding Act, it will become illegal to hold wedding receptions in Uganda.

Couples will be expected to exchange their vows in church, and thereafter, proceed to their homes to live happily ever after, investing their would-have-been reception-cash on income generating projects to secure their offspring’s future.

The results will come in quick. Men, now relieved of the unnecessary financial burden involved in weddings, will be quicker to commit, or at least, will find less excuses for not doing so.