Intermarriage between different ethnic groups in Nigeria is one of the most effective means of fostering healthy relationship and strong bonding between Nigerian communities, but among the three major Nigerian ethnic groups it is the Hausa and the Fulani wore rarely marry out their women to other communities, but their men marry women from other ethnic groups. It is a systematic act with socio-cultural and religious reasons.
A model in Fulani traditional attire (image: Pinterest)
Of course, there are Hausa and Fulani women that marry either Yoruba or Igbo men, but these are exceptional cases, it is not what people see all the time. Not like you observe between Igbos and Yoruba, and between them and other ethnic groups within their region and without. The Hausa and Fulani are very exclusive, being major ethnic groups in Nigeria this habit mocks the idea of intermarriages for promotion of unity.
Do the Hausa or Fulani do this because they hate other Nigerian, No. They may have reasons to distrust other groups for historical and political reasons, but not hate. They wouldn’t marry out their women to southerners particularly for cultural reasons and for religious reasons. Let us consider these reasons and gauge their validity, if they qualify to eschew noble acts like intermarriage for national unity, one of the noble acts the NYSC encourages.
For clarity, the Hausa and Fulani marry mostly within their region, North; in most cases, it is their men that marry women from other ethnic groups into theirs but seldomly marry out their daughters to non-Hausa and non-Fulani. Hausa and Fulani are two different ethnic groups but they intermarry mostly between themselves. The practice of Hausa and Fulani marrying between themselves began since before the Jihad of Danfodio and more prevalent after, after hundreds of years of intermarriage between them they evolved an identity known as Hausa-Fulani: an ethnocultural identity that is neither Hausa or Fulani and is also both.
A beautiful Fulani girl
Marriage between the Hausa, Fulani or Hausa-Fulani and other groups in northern Nigeria is also rare, and it is the same reason as it is with the south. First and foremost, the practice of child or early marriage among the Hausa and Fulani inhibits intermarriage with other ethnic groups, this is because before the girl is grown to expose to other suitors outside her community, she has been betrothed or married out to someone else within her community. Unlike other ethnic groups who often wait for the girls to grow and be exposed through education etc, and will in the process meet someone outside their community and fell in love and marry them.
Most Hausa girls are rarely allowed to grow enough or allow to expose themselves to men from other ethnic groups; without letting them meet other people, developing a relationship and eventual marriage is near impossible. Even the educated ones, it is either they marry shortly after secondary school, or while in the university, their parents are suitors don’t want these girls to carried away by freedom and eventually fall for other people outside their groups. Those who finish higher institution before the marry often marry before their NYSC, so as to prevent them from leaving the north to places outside the north. This account for low rates of Hausa and Fulani females serving in southern parts of Nigeria.
Most of the northern ladies often seen serving in the south are in most cases not Hausa or Fulani but could be Muslims coming from other northern Nigeria languages. Only Hausa young men and women are allowed to explore and marry other “exposed” women from other ethnicities. That is why the rate of intermarriage involving Hausa or Fulani is mostly of their men marrying women outside their ethnic groups within the north and from southern Nigeria.
A rare occasion, Governor Umar Ganduje of Kano’s Fulani daughter marry a Yoruba man, the son of former governor of Oyo State (image: Adelove.com)
The Fulani, unlike most Nigerian communities, upholds intra-marriage wholeheartedly, they rarely marry out their girls to non-Fulani, in fact, it is customary among some of them not to marry their daughters outside their families: you see cases of nephews marrying their nieces, or uncles marrying their nieces. Males who share ancestors, even one as immediate as a grandfather or mother, can marry. With such a tradition fully in place, the chances of marrying out their girls to outsiders is almost unthinkable. This practice is not adhered to rigidly by town or settled Fulani.
Hausa and Fulani rarely marry out their girls ethnicities outside northern Nigeria for religious reason, except the Yoruba in Southern Nigeria with a sizeable number of Muslims. Most ethnic communities in southern Nigeria are Christians. And if there is anything that northern Muslims frown upon a lot, it is inter-religious marriage, particularly involving their daughters and Christians or non-Muslim men.
But Muslim Hausa and Fulani men are permitted to marry women from other religions and by virtue of marriage convert them to Islam; they regard that if the same is done to their daughters it means an automatic conversion of their daughters to other religions other than Islam, and that is not tolerable among Hausa and Fulani Muslims. As such, the keep their women as far away from Christian men as possible, and if you are a Christian you will do your self good by staying far away from Hausa and Fulani girls.
Image: Daily Advent Nigeria
The marriage between Hausa-Fulani man and a southern Nigerian man I have ever seen is the marriage between the daughter of Kano state governor Umar Ganduje, and a Yoruba man who is the son of the former governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi; and a Fulani woman I met sometimes back who revealed that her husband is Yoruba. I observed that their spouses are Muslims, the latter case her husband was a Yoruba-northern born and raised in the city of Kaduna. I am yet to see a Hausa or Fulani lady married to an Igbo man or Christian Yoruba man. Most of the northern women southern Nigerian men marry if you care to asked are actually non-Hausa, non-Fulani and even non-Muslim northerners, who in Southern generalisation are Hausa.
The Igbos, Yorubas and other ethnic communities in southern Nigeria and the non-Hausa or Fulani minorities groups in northern Nigeria often marry their women to other ethnic groups with no sentiment other than the initial ethnophobia which often vanishes shortly after. As such, many of these communities have married out their daughters to Hausa and Fulani while the same noble gesture is reciprocated by the Hausa and Fulani.
If Nigeria is to be truly unified, intermarriage should be encouraged, with special emphasis on the Hausa and Fulani to show trust in the noble aspiration and allowing other groups marrying their daughters, without expecting them to convert to Islam before doing so. That is why the animosity, distrust and suspicion still exist in Nigeria politics between Northern Hausa and Fulani and some groups in the south; if you don’t trust me enough to give me your daughter’s hand in marriage, how do you expect us to live together in harmony?