Childlessness: Whose Fault?
By EHIGBAI OLOHIGIE
The problem of childlessness has remained a bone of contention in most African setting. The home which is a vital part of the society comprises of the father, mother and children which can also be called a family.
In Africa today, life is believed to be a circle around the unborn, the living and also the dead. The belief by Africans makes it compulsory for the family to produce offsprings that will carry on their names; and anything that stand in the way of achieving this is seen as an enemy and therefore must be treated as such.
The issue of childlessness in the home has caused so much damages and most times led to broken homes, couples feeling ridiculed and jeered at hand sometimes too familiar with laboratory tests, gynecological centers, hospitals, nuptial seminars, prayer houses, herbalist homes and spiritual centers.
“Emotional watch” and scum of the earth” have become the names by which they are known. One time it is mutual consolation and at another it is mutual reproach. Knee-derked by in-laws and kindred, their humanity mocked at, they get driven to despair and despondency, misunderstanding between the husband and the wife, making the home tensed for both of them. In all this, the woman is always blamed if she is not able to produce children for her husband, without efforts being made to find out if the problem is truly from her. Take for example a woman who had been married to a man for over 10 years without a child due to one problem or the other, may be threatened by in-laws to leave the man’s house. In most cases, the man may be instigated to take another wife leading to polygamy. In some homes, in order for couples to avoid such misunderstanding, they go an extra mile to adopt children because they want peace to reign, why some couples go to the extremes by meeting midwives (nurses) or even avenging with the mother of a baby to sell her child to them. Such a poverty-stricken and desperate woman sells their babies to them and the buyer of the child (couples) pretend to be the parents of the child which turn sour, where by the real mother of the child comes back to collect her child from the couple after some time. And refusal to give back the child leads to public disgrace.
In all this, life is shrouded in mystery. The veracity of this statement is eloquent through partially demonstrated in one of the vicissitudes of married life – the problem of childlessness.
To say the least, the problem has become a phenomenon, what then is the fate of the childless African couples in a culture where sterility is considered a curse.
In the African setting, the consciousness of childlessness is even heightened and much felt. It is inconceivable to talk of a marriage devoid of children, since this was seen as mounting to a total eclipse of the family and the society. emphasising the primary of procreation in marriage, unfolds that, the desire of having children is deep rooted in the hearts of both man and woman and on entering into matrimonial union, they regard procreation of children as their first and most sacred duty.
“From the afore-mentioned statement, a childless marriage appears to be very difficult to maintain. Life is fundamental” is one very true saying that I believe in. too often, we glory in the ephemeral at the expense of the enduring, we forget so soon that the problem of childlessness is just one amongst many other perplexing human and existential problems by which our self-exaltation and self deification is put to shame. The ability to transmit life, and inability to transmit it are all mysteries to which humans can never give thorough explanations and go forth to demonstrate human factility in a strange world.
The problems of childlessness for African couples is not the worst of all human problem. Childless couples should be patient; if, however, it becomes absolutely necessary, they should go for adoption of children, rather than engage themselves in self-pity. Childless African couples should occupy their minds with human development-oriented programmes – they may exercise charitable acts of those in need, and fix their hearts in love for each other.
Over and be above all, there should be an attitudinal change on the part of our society. the community within which the childless couple finds themselves, must be educated in such a way that it does not see and it that the childless couples as unfortunate beings, but accept and respect them. When this is done, the childless couple can live a fulfilled life. Afterall, in civilized nations married couples voluntarily opt for a life in love without children.
Finally, there is no human being on earth who is without a problem. It is the degree of peculiarities and the nature of each of our problems that make the difference. Childless couples should learn to outgrow their problems by living as though they have none and so avoid burdening themselves further in addition to the already existing burden-laden life. mutual love by which couples are bonded together must be strong at this point to allow for mutual acceptance of their lot. Adapt yourself to the things about which your lot has been cost after all, by reason of fact and knowledge, a childless marriage is a marriage indeed! Don’t give up your faith in marriage because of your condition.