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Interethnic Relationships in Africa

Over time, there is an increase in interethnic relationships globally, raising interest to sociologists and many people.

An interethnic relationship is a bond that occurs when the persons involved are of different civilizations and natal heritage.

In the United States Supreme Court, in 1967, they removed the last anti-miscegenation law, which later encouraged relationships between persons of a different ethnic and racial group.

Interethnic relationships have become more common in Africa since the 1980s.

You can now find happy couples of which, for instance, the man is from Africa, while the woman is from Europe.

In this article, you will read about the impacts of interethnic relationships in Africa and factors affecting such relationships in the African continent with typical examples. 

A Quick Look at Real Life Examples of Interethnic Relationship in Africa

Many persons have engaged in interethnic relationships in Africa, but we will look at typical examples here.

The first example is the relationship between the English/Ugandan couple – Shaz and Juma. Shaz is an English singer that had a collaboration with a Ugandan musician Juma to win awards.

Even though Shaz is a foreigner, she can sing fluently in Lusoga, Juma’s mother tongue. Their relationship has received spotlights from people as some men request to marry anyone like Shaz.

Another instance is Simon and Reen’s relationship. Simon is an English missionary in Uganda for a mission. One day, he saw a young Ugandan girl standing at the swimming pool of a neighboring lodge.

Immediately, he felt he should help teach her how to swim so they could be in a relationship, and it worked for him. Presently, they are happily married with four children.

Factors Responsible for Interethnic Relationships

Certainly, modernization is the primary factor responsible for interethnic relationships in the present world. People migrate to different places worldwide and find true love, and they feel accepted even in the strangest places.

Below, you will find the major causes of interethnic relationships with real-life indications on these factors.

1. Social Networks

Most recent social networking applications like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and the likes are responsible for connecting people of like minds together irrespective of ethnicity.

Conversely, people with diverse social networks get more support and approval regarding interethnic relationships, and they even have more propensities to this kind of relationship.

There have been stories of people who accepted a friend request on social media and married themselves after online chats and affections. Others have met through dating websites too.

2. Education/ Literacy

The quest for higher or better educational opportunities has made people engage in interethnic relationships.

Let’s take Lisa and Sylvester’s case, for instance. Sylvester, a Nigerian, came to England to study quantity surveying when he met Lisa – a Britain.

Though they first met on a dating website, they had their first physical contact after three months before the wedding a year after. Presently, they have two children and happily living in Lagos, Nigeria.

3. Ethnic Diversity

Ethnic diversity is a significant player in interethnic relationships. Persons whose parents come from different ethnicity tend to be more engaged in interethnic relationships.

Ethnic diversity helps remove personal favoritism and harmful stereotype in ethnicity. It allows people to respect other cultures and engage in meaningful conversations, thereby exchanging experiences.

4. Migration and Urbanization

Migration and urbanization have led to long-lasting interethnic relationships in Africa. When people migrate from rural areas to urban areas, it results in urbanization. Indeed, people migrate to urban areas for education, pleasure, and lots of other concerns.

Before Kala met Matayo, she had spent so many years in Africa and became fluent in Swahili.

After her college education, she was confident that she wanted to spend her life in Africa. They got married and had their children.

Kala and Matayo’s relationship began due to migration, bringing them together as a happy family.

5. Socioeconomic Status

Frequently, socioeconomic status, especially affluence, is a factor responsible for interethnic relationships.

Many couples fall into a relationship because they have compatibility in religion, income, occupation, marital status, age, and more.

6. Rejection of Polygamy

In most countries, especially in Africa, people now decline polygamy. They insist on marrying one man or woman due to religion or other prevailing factors like conflict among co-wives and domestic violence.

In an attempt to flee from marrying more than one spouse, people engage in relationships with others from different ethnic backgrounds. You can now spot an African man married to an English lady.

7. Personal Attitude

Many couples in interethnic romantic relationships result from their attitude, especially individual preferences and not ethnicity. In the relationship market, many go for exactly what they want.

For instance, many years ago, at Jinja Uganda, a motorbike taxi (Bodaboda) driver – Alex, gave an English girl – Cat, a ride on her friend’s recommendation.

The drive to her volunteering nursery school was safe and smooth, and that made Alex her favorite driver.

After some time, Alex asked Cat out for a date at the Jinja Fair. That relationship, however, nurtured to marriage, and you can see here that their attitudes brought them together.

Other factors responsible for interethnic relationships in Africa are gender and employment opportunities.

Trends in Interethnic Relationships among African Countries

The trend of interethnic relationships across African countries is increasing in almost similar proportions.

According to Juliette Crespin-Boucaud, in 2019, Zambia and Congo-Brazzaville had 40% of their married women in interethnic marriages.

Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Namibia, and Kenya have less than 10% of the earlier figure.

Zambia, Malawi, and Gabon have 25% increases in interethnic marriages, while Niger and Burkina Faso have 70% decreases.

It is possible that the fact that Niger and Burkina Faso have major ethnic groups – Hausa and Mossi, respectively caused the decrease in their interethnic relationships.

What is the major problem of inter-ethnic marriage?

Ethnic violence can be a significant problem in interethnic marriages. It might come from the couples or their families in the circumstances relating to life attitude, taboos, christening, norms, funerals, discussions, and more.

What is the meaning of intra-ethnic marriage?

Intra-ethnic marriage occurs when the couples involved are from the same religion, race, or ethnic group.

How many types of marriage are there?

The two main types of marriage are religious marriage and civil marriage. Religious marriage involves licensing and recognition by the law, while civil union involves the same factors except for religion. People seem to respect civil marriage more than religious marriage.

Conclusion

Africans have different views about interethnic relationships; however, the association is good if one marries from/to a country with good ethnic relations. 

Interethnic relationships have significantly promoted discursive deracialization in Africa, especially among the young ones.

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