“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to witness the matrimony between this wonderful lady and herself”, said the preacher as he commenced my self-marriage ceremony.
My wedding was attended by the few liberals from my social circle because most of my family and friends thought I was delusional. The elders of my family completely rejected the idea, saying that it goes against the norms of our Setswana tradition. They said that it would be ludicrous to pay lobola (a bride price) to me for me, and that it’s unheard of for a woman to remain single, yet alone marry herself.
My intention was not at all to upset my family or even to go against their traditions. I had already taken a vow of singleness for life at the age of 25 after coming to terms with the fact that I didn’t want to be married. My desire to live my life as an unmarried woman became pronounced in my mid-20s when I realized that I’m happiest and most fulfilled outside of romantic relationships.
I can understand why my family and most of my friends are against my decision. I’m 30 years old and at this age, I’m expected to wear the hats of career woman, wife and mother, and to look forward to this as an eventuality while single.
The world designs the narrative of femininity from the time a little girl is born. Little boys play with cars and swords, being the adventurous super heroes whereas little girls play with dolls and tea cups, because marriage and motherhood is their ultimate destiny. Teenage girls are barred from dating and talking about sex because their purity will result in them being marriage material, while teenage boys are given free rein to explore and find themselves.
Besides the dictations of patriarchy, how many times do we as women affirm ourselves in light of the relationships we have? We feel like there’s something wrong with us if no man wants us, and we tend to believe that having a husband and children validates our womanhood.
Marrying myself is breaking this narrative of femininity, and creating one that fully belongs to me as a woman. This is a declaration of my choice to live a life of complete singleness. Instead of getting in relationships for the sake of quelling other people’s concerns, I decided that it was time to settle down and start living my life according to my convictions and decisions.
Celibacy is a real thing that it sometimes not dictated by religious requirements. Some people are happiest alone and are certain that a life of singleness is for them.
“Do you promise to love yourself in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, to honour yourself all the days of your life until death leads you home?” the preacher asked.
“I do”, I replied.
“Well then”, he continued. “I declare you married to yourself! I wish you joy, blessings and happiness all the days of your life!”
*image from Instagram.