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McShayn's Love Thread Why prenuptial agreements are not popular in Nigeria

It is simply not a traditional or cultural thing for Africans to even divorce. So what's the point of a prenup?

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You might be forgiven if last Sunday, April 9, 2017 was your first time of ever hearing the term ‘prenuptial agreement.'

That’s because on that day, news circulated like wildfire, and we also reported it on this platform that Janet Jackson has split from her billionaire husband, Wissam Al Mana, to whom she had been married since 2012.

Now this is where it gets interesting: the 50-year old singer had signed a prenup with her husband and according to rumours, she could get up to 500 million dollars in the case of a divorce.

So Janet Jackson waited five years and two months before separating from her husband, and of course, because there is a prenup, she's getting millions of dollars in alimony.

So basically, as you might have guessed, a prenup is an agreement partners enter before their wedding, which explains how the couple will financially arrange their affairs during their marriage, and more importantly how their finances will be sorted in the unfortunate event of a divorce.

Janet Jackson and her hubby, Wissam Almana, at the Hermes show, at Paris Fashion Week. play

Janet Jackson and her hubby, Wissam Almana, at the Hermes show, at Paris Fashion Week.


In developed parts of the world, this is a very common feature of their marriage laws. That’s not the case in Nigeria, though.

Abi, how many examples of prenup have you seen or heard of? I’d really love to hear about that, please feel free to send a mail to the address in the author’s profile below.

ALSO READ: Why people remain in relationships that have gone bad

In America, for example, about 45-50% of marriages end up in divorce according to Huffington Post.

Since the stats show that many of the marriages will likely end in divorce, it became sensible for couples to 'protect' themselves by putting in place some form of agreement, in order to reduce complications when the divorce eventually happens.

However, signing this agreement before marriage is usually seen as a form of distrust of your partner’s desire or willingness to stay with you forever, and as a certain Ijeoma put it on the African Wedding Traditions website, “entering into marriage while also giving yourself an out by preparing for a future divorce just doesn't seem like a great [or right] way to start a new life together.”

That reason above is the first of the reasons why prenups are not widespread in Nigeria.

play People would rather stay in bad marriages than get a divorce (Crosswalk.com)


Nigerians generally love to hold the idealistic view that all marriages would last forever, that all possible cracks in these marriages will be mended by an intervention of in-laws and Pastors/Alfas, and that the love between spouses would be strong forever, come rain come shine.

Then there is also the issue of tradition; it is simply not a traditional or cultural thing for Africans to even divorce.

In traditional Yoruba settings, for example, women who leave their husbands’ houses are scorned by all, and even avoided by their own friends because, it appears, it is better and more respectable to stay in a bad marriage, even if the husband is a terrible, whorish, philandering twat.

play Even the Law isn't so helpful in this regard (Dabira Magazine)


So, if you are not even meant to consider divorce, what the blazing hell is the use of a prenuptial agreement?

But there should be a Law guiding this issue, right?

Hell no.

I’m sure you are not disappointed to learn that there isn’t. I mean, it’s Nigeria we are talking about here, duh.

ALSO READ: 4 important questions you need to ask before you get married

According to Barr. Damola Oni, “I haven’t drawn up any prenuptial agreement yet… [and though it is allowed, there is actually no express Law guiding it in the country.]”

In countries where prenups are popular, there are clear laws directing all the processes, and this makes the couples, Lawyers and courts sure of what to do when preparing the contracts and giving judgements based on them.

So in a setting like ours where no law exists, it becomes pretty hard to do much, and as the amiable Barr. Oni puts it “If [a couple sign a prenup and it] results in litigation, the tendency of it being defeated in court is high.” Another reason why loads and loads of Nigerians don’t even consider prenups.

play Prenuptial agreements could help with the stress that comes with settling financial issues in the case of a divorce (HSF)


Other reasons include illiteracy, and the widely-held, deeply-rooted religious belief that marriages are for better for worse and till death do you part. Amen.

Like I said at the beginning of this article, you are forgiven if Janet Jackson’s $500Million-worth separation was the first time you ever heard of prenups, or if you are just coming across the concept in this very article.

You are forgiven because, somehow, despite the crazy number of bad marriages and separations we have in the country, prenuptials still pretty much remains an alien, unimaginable idea to us.

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