Nigeria, the state pays for the wedding of 1,800 couples in poverty

They simply wouldn’t get married because they couldn’t afford it, like textile trader Yusuf Abdullahi, who had to give up getting married until he was 30, when Kano State, in northern Nigeria, financed and organized group weddings for 1,800 couples last weekend. Customary gifts for newlyweds were also provided by the state as part of efforts to enable the poorest to marry.

The groom: “I couldn’t get married even if I wanted to”

Yusuf was one of the grooms dressed in the traditional white robe and red cap who took advantage of the weekend ceremonies. “Life is really hard, that’s why I couldn’t get married, even if I wanted to,” he told AFP inside Kano’s central mosque, where he and dozens of other future husbands awaited the religious ceremony. The brides all wore a bright red veil over a long gown. Mass wedding rites were held in mosques across the state.

The Kano State initiative

Rising prices of fuel, housing, transport and food have pushed some Nigerians, most of whom live on less than $2 (1.90 euros) a day, deeper into poverty. And getting married can be expensive, as tradition requires the groom to pay a sum of money to the bride’s family, a barrier to marriage for some couples. Thus, the state government assumed the economic coverage and all the obligations foreseen for the wedding, giving the bride’s family 50,000 naira (about 61 euros), the furniture for the couple’s home and gifts of food, explained the governor of Kano Abba Kabir Yusuf. The government also granted 20,000 naira (about 25 euros) to each bride “as seed money to start small businesses”, a kind of dowry to help reduce their husbands’ financial burdens.