Comprehension: Bride-Price and Polygamy
- Title: Bride-Price and Polygamy
- Text: New Oxford Secondary English Course for SSS2 pages 19 – 20.
Read the passage carefully and answer the questions on it
Bride-Price and Polygamy:
Enthusiasts for tradition have consistently argued that the custom of bride price should be upheld as it is a major African tradition. These apologists also advance the argument that the bride price helps to keep polygamy in check. In a more mercenary vein, the supporters of bride price insist that it represents some compensation to parents for the upbringing of a daughter and for lost earnings in the case of a breadwinning female offspring. Unfortunately, these arguments do not stand close scrutiny.
That bride price is a means of checking polygamy is an assumption without basis. Polygamy has always been an “accepted” social custom in black African countries. It has been in existence since the pre-colonial era (when, of course, the basic argument was that more hands were needed on the farm even though this rationale conveniently ignores the fact that more mouths will then also need to be fed).
However, in this day and age, polygamy, in spite of the bride price, is not only still in our midst but is on the increase. Polygamy used to be regarded as prevalent among the “unenlightened” African men, but these days even the so-called educated counterparts seem to be deriving some form of “twisted” pleasure from assiduously practising this custom, the only difference being perhaps that polygamy is practised in a more “sophisticated” way by the latter; that is, while presenting a front of a monogamous home they keep and support “outside” wives.
(Adapted from NOSEC Book Six, pages 79 – 80)
Questions and Answers:
1. What two arguments are advanced by proponents of bride price?
A – Two arguments advanced by proponents of bride price are it is a major African custom that should be upheld and bride price helps keep polygamy in check. (Another argument you could state is; that it represents some compensation to the parents for the upbringing of a daughter and lost earnings, in the case of a breadwinning female offspring).
2. Are the arguments in favour of the retention of bride price valid?
A – The arguments in favour of the retention of bride price are not valid.
3. What was the reason for polygamy in the pre-colonial era?
A – The reason for polygamy in the pre-colonial era was to provide more hands to work on the farm.
4. What does a breadwinning female do that makes a difference from a female that is not breadwinning?
A – The difference between a breadwinning female and a female who is not the breadwinner is the breadwinning female earns and provides money to help support her family while the female who is not a breadwinner does not.
5. What is the difference between men who practise polygamy nowadays and those who did so in former times?
A – The difference between men who practise nowadays and those who did so in the former times is nowadays men present a front of being monogamous but support and keep other women and wives outside of their marital home.
6. “… that the bride price helps to keep polygamy in check”.
i. What grammatical name is given to this?
A – The grammatical name given to this is, it is an adjectival phrase.
ii. What is its function?
A – It qualifies the noun, the “argument”.
7. For each of the following words, find another word or phrase that means the same and that can replace it as it is used in the passage:
i. mercenary – money-oriented, materialistic
ii. compensation – payment, reimbursement
iii. upbringing – raising, bringing up
iv. scrutiny – careful examination, investigation
v. era – point in history, times
vi. prevalent – common, widespread