Tuesday, May 6, 2014 12:36 pm
One day after he was turbaned as the 19th Dalhatu Zazzaua, a prestigious traditional title, by the Emir of Zazzau, Governor Mukhtar Ramalan Yero of Kaduna, was invited to a mass wedding of 100 couples in the state.
The mass wedding, Fatiha, organised by Darur-Rahama, an Islamic group, took place at Almannar Jummat Mosque on Easter Sunday, with Sheikh Balele Wali, Imam of Sultan Bello Mosque, Kawo,officiating. The event, which attracted a large crowd of dignitaries, friends and relations of the couples, was the talk of the town being the first of its kind to be held in Kaduna.
The women, mostly between the ages of 20 and 30, apparently frustrated with being widows or divorcees, were selected from several hundreds that besieged the Kaduna Hisbah office seeking to marry any interested suitor. .
Darur-Rahama, a Kaduna-based Non-Governmental Organisation, NGO, basically sponsored the mass wedding to reduce the high rate of divorce, agony of widowed women, and broken homes in the state.
Full of smiles as he watched the hundred couples in their white babarigas and blue Hijabs at the grand reception, held at Umar Yar’Adua Shopping Complex Hall, Murtala Square, Kaduna, the man behind the mass wedding, Sheikh Ishaq Yunus, who is also the Chairman of Hisbah Muslim organisation, Kaduna branch and proprietor, Darur Raham, told this magazine it was the alarming rate of divorce cases in the state and marital failure that usually leaves a string of broken homes and a gradual breakdown of the family unit, that informed the decision of the Islamic organisation to consider the mass wedding option.
Speaking with the magazine, Abdullahi Bulama, a driver with two wives, said he divorced one of them after he discovered they were no longer compatible but had always longed to add another wife. So when he got the gist about the mass wedding from a friend that had already signified interest in picking a wife among the registered women, he didn’t waste time to move to the centre. Bulama said he became more interested with the manner the Hisbah and Darur-Rahama handled the process of engagement. “I am happy because I got married to another without paying a dime. More so, the idea of forcing the women to learn a handiwork excited me.”
Amina Shehu, who narrated how she was humiliated by her former husband after having two children, expressed joy that the mass wedding is an idea that does not give the men room to divorce the women easily. “The days of fear of divorce are over as we the women involved in this can now go to bed and sleep without blinking,” she stated.
Some officials of the Hisbah hinted that concept of gathering divorcees and widows cropped up from the Kano experience, which has proved successful.
Just as it was done in Kano, the Islamic group requested through the radio and television for interested young divorcees and widows willing to remarry to appear before the Hisbah organisation for the purpose of training, empowering and giving out for marriage. And in no time, over 100 divorcees and widows trooped to the Hisbah secretariat for screening.
Sheikh Yunus, in a chat with the magazine at the reception ground said the positive signals received about the success recorded within the first one year of the Kano mass wedding encouraged the Kaduna Hisbah and Darur-Rahama to take up the challenge to organise same in the state.
Before the decision was taken, the coordinating organisation was to embark on wide consultations with Islamic clerics and government officials in Kaduna to avoid breach of the Islamic law and laws of the land. The group then began collation of divorcees and widows who were later registered for the subsequent match-making programme.
Announcements were again made through radio and television calling for interested suitors willing to pick up any of the registered waiting brides. The suitors first viewed their prospective wives in picture album. Once a choice was made arrangements were made for interested suitors including Hisbah officials to meet those they thought would be their soul mates.
It didn’t end choosing a bride; the prospective bride and groom underwent screening for HIV, genotype and various types of hepatitis. The couples in waiting were then allowed five months to get acquainted before the weddings took place.
Besides Darur-Rahama helping to settle the bride prices and costs of the wedding to reduce the burden on the brides and grooms, the organisation trained and empowered the women since idleness was acknowledged as one of the reasons the men send their wives packing.
In brief remark at the reception, Sheikh Yunus announced that over N200,000 was spent on each couple, with a spacious bed, sewing machine, bag of rice, room chair given to each couple to start a new life. Thus, in addition to marrying the women off, an undisclosed start-up capital was also given to empowering them financially and economically.
Yunus believes that through a formidable marriage institution between a husband and a wife societal ills such as prostitution, street begging, almajirinci, armed robbery and drug abuse can be tackled. “We strongly believe that when a man and woman are together as husband and wife to bring up children, the better for both the family and society,” he said.
Throwing his weight behind what he termed a laudable venture, Governor Yero announced the state government’s resolve to support the second phase of the mass wedding programme in the state by sponsoring 500 Muslims and Christians .
Yero vehemently condemned the rampant cases of divorce in the state and northern region . ‘’We must help the divorced and widowed get back their prestige as married women,’’ he noted.