My Father Wants Me To Marry My Brother

NEXT to Reverend Fathers, legal practitioners are one set of people who oftentimes hear the most amazing confessions. Barrister AZ was shocked to the marrow when a pretty young woman named Miss KV walked into his chambers one afternoon to say:
‘Please, help, barrister! My father wants me to marry my brother.’
Barrister AZ’s training had taught him the value of AUDI ALTERAM PARTEM (‘hear both sides’). So, whenever the opportunity came for him to take the brief of any client, he would mentally fix himself in the position of the adverse party; that way, he always succeeded in drawing out the full story that could help him in preparing his case. Therefore, determined now not to be carried away by Miss KV’s tears and shocking declaration, he urged her gently:
‘Take it easy. Take it slowly. What’s your story?’
Miss KV was only too ready to oblige the lawyer with her story, and this was it: She was about eight years old when an inter-communal war broke out between the oil rich communities of DD Clan and Qua-Qua Clan. There was a strip of land in dispute between the two communities, and an oil company had offered to pay a huge amount of money as compensation to exploit crude oil from the said land. A big quarrel had therefore arisen as to which community would get the compensation… Miss KV could clearly recall the sheer terror of that night of doom when her whole village had gone up in flames… A hunter from the neighbouring Fortune Town had found her running alone in the ticket and had rescued her. When later it had been discovered that little Miss KV’s parents and close relatives had all perished in that horrendous communal clash which had reduced her entire village to ashes, the hunter who had rescued her, being an old widower who judged that he could not take care of the girl, decided to hand her over to the kindhearted Headmaster of Fortune Village Model Primary School, Mr. UZ. Mr. UZ was most willing to step into the shoes of Miss KV’s father, raising her together with his own five children, all of whom were older than the girl.
Mr. and Mrs. UZ lavished love on Miss KV and she grew up forgetting that they were not really her natural parents. Mr. UZ was ‘Papa’ to her, while Mrs. UZ was ‘Mama’, and she took the couple’s three sons and two daughters as her older siblings. She grew up into a very beautiful, highly intelligent and well behaved young lady who drew admiration from all who knew her. Mr. and Mrs. UZ gave her and their own biological children equal education, up to the university level. When she was in her final year, studying Zoology in the university, her eldest ‘brother’, UZ Junior, began to get fresh with her.
‘Each time I think about the kind of lady I’ll settle down with, the picture of your face always jump into my mind,’ Junior told her. ‘As you know, I’m thirty-three. Now that I’ve secured a good job, I want to settle down. And I want it to be with you, KV dear.’
‘God forbid!’ Miss KV exclaimed. ‘Are you all right, Bro Junior?’
‘Of course, I’m all right. And stop calling me “Bro Junior”. You and I know that you’re not my biological sister. We don’t even come from the same town…’
‘What? I can’t believe you’re actually voicing this kind of abomination, Bro Junior. I’ll report you to Papa.’
And she carried out her threat. But lo and behold! She was to find out that it was actually ‘Papa’ who had put Junior up to his moves.
‘KV my child, there’s nothing wrong at all with Junior’s proposal. Look, I have a confession to make, my child: I brought you up, not like a house-girl, but like my own flesh and blood because I’d always had it at the back of my mind that my first son, Junior, would marry you. Look, my dear, marriage is something that can make or mar a man. I was lucky to find a good wife, and that has contributed greatly to why I’m still alive today. So I don’t want to take chances with my first son. My wife and I have given you good training, good education, for this singular purpose: that we can keep you here in our family as Junior’s wife. I’ve spent so much feeding and educating you: you can take it, dear, that your bride price has been paid in full on behalf of Junior. Believe me, it’s going to be an excellent union between you two: you both grew up together, and so no one can tell you about each other’s likes and dislikes…’
‘Please, say no more, Papa. I can never marry Junior, no matter what anyone says. This is the only family I have and know; you and Mama are my parents, and Junior and the others are my brothers and sisters. I was never a house-girl. From Day One, you and Mama have taken me as your ‘daughter’… No, no, no! Look, Papa, God forbid that I should marry my own brother. Never!’
And she stood her ground. Then, immediately after her National Youth Service Corps, she fell madly in love with a Consultant Pediatrician, Dr. VT. She told the young doctor everything about her background, but it did not lessen his love for her: he proposed marriage to her and she said the big ‘Yes’. However, when she brought Dr. VT home to meet her adoptive parents, trouble broke out.
‘Young man, Miss KV is not available. You can’t marry her because she already has a husband,’ Mr. UZ told Dr. VT. ‘Her bride price has been paid in full by my first son. I raised her and gave her quality education… and now she’s dazzling before all eyes! Go your way, son. Our people have a saying that when you see a goat with marked ears, you should know that it has an owner. She’s right to say that this is her family and that I’m her father, but she’s wrong to think that my labour for her can be reaped by another. Never…’
And she was in tears when she recounted her story to Barrister AZ.
‘Please, advise me, Barrister. My fiancé wants us to sue Papa and get court to order him to give his blessing to our proposed marriage.’
The lawyer laughed and told her that it was not within the power of court to order anyone to give their blessing to a marriage; but court could definitely make a DECLARATION as to whether or not her ‘bride price’ had really been paid in full by virtue of the fact that Mr. UZ had trained her.
When the case was set down for hearing before Fortune Town Area Customary Court, the basic issue raised for determination was whether it was a case of Customary Law Adoption (in which case Junior would, because of AFFINITY, be prohibited from marrying Miss KV) or whether Miss KV was merely a house-girl raised in the house of the UZs. From all the oral evidence of the various witnesses, court reached the decision that Miss KV was taken into the home of the UZs, not as a house-girl, but as an adopted child and so was related to the biological children of the UZs by affinity and could never be married by any of them…
With that Declaration made by court at the end of hearing, Mr. UZ was ordered in the court judgment to desist forthwith from holding himself out as having paid Plaintiff’s bride price ‘in full’ since by law he could not be her father and her father-in-law at one and the same time.