“You must marry an African man!”

Yeah. You read the title right. Guess who said that? My mom.

So a few months back, my mom was talking to my aunt at her hair salon. They were talking about marriage, and my aunt asked my mom when I will get married. Yes, she’s one of those aunties at parties that always asks when you will get married. It’s really none of their business. Why are they so concerned? I really don’t know, but back to the story. My mom said not yet, and that she wanted me to finish my education first. I was in shock but also grateful for that response. My aunt then asked if my mom would let me marry someone who is not African. My mother’s response: “She can marry who she wants, as long as he is African.”

I stopped braiding my customer’s hair and looked at my mom. She was not paying attention to me, instead, she kept braiding. I thought about what she said long and hard. I can marry who I want but they must be African. But when religion comes in, I’m actually limited. What my mother meant to say: “She can marry who she wants, as long as he is African AND Muslim.”

So, I really cannot marry who I want. Although I still think about this conversation, I question my freedom to marry whom I want (he has to be Muslim). My parents have tied me and put me in this tiny box in which I cannot be released until someone marries me. The one good thing is that my parents are not expecting me to get married anytime soon. Yet, they hold the key to this box that I am in. As an African woman, I really am limited. As an African woman, I have a “curfew.” I must come home at a certain time. I must tell my parents where I am at all times. I cannot have male friends. I must be the care taker.

As an African woman, I am limited. This key that they hold will be given to my future husband.

How do I break free from this box without marriage being involved? I honestly do not know. However, do I have to marry an African man because my mother said so? (I would say yes so I do not get disowned). But, the point is, I should be of liberty to make my own decisions. I shouldn’t be limited, not just in who I marry, but in everything. I am not my own person. I am my parents person. I am in the box they have created just for me. Now, my goal is to break free.

My mother’s new response should be: “She can choose whomever she wants to marry (as long as he is Muslim).”