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Nigerians who cross racial lines to find love share their stories

Ndukwe and Amber Kalu

Marriage is part of society’s life style that is either stable or unstable. The success or failure of marriage is largely determined by the norms of the society, its components and compositions. One of the most controversial types of marriages in the history of human race is interracial marriages-in this instance, between blacks and Caucasians.

Many societies view interracial marriage as a violation of cultural norms.

About two hundred years ago, almost half of the fifty states in America outlawed marriages between persons of different races solely on the basis of racial classifications. Sixteen of these 25 states were southern states. Some of them included: North Carolina, Virginia, Washington DC,(The District Of Columbia), Alabama, Louisiana, Texas and Georgia. In outlawing interracial marriages, these states adopted the 1924 Racial Integrity Act titled; “An anti-miscegenation law prohibiting and punishing interracial marriage between white persons and coloured persons.” (Landmark Decisions of the United States Supreme Court III by Maureen Harrison and Steve Culbert).

The Virginia Court of Appeals, in 1955, concluded that the act was necessary in order to “preserve the racial integrity of its citizens” and to prevent the corruption of blood, a mongrel breed of citizens and “the obliteration of racial pride.”

These proclamations were outlawed in 1967 by the Supreme Court in a landmark case: Loving Vs Virginia.

Richard Penny-Loving, a white man had married Mildred Jeter Loving, a black woman in January 1959 in the District of Columbia-DC. The marriage was declared illegal under the then existing laws. Mr. Loving argued his case all the way to the Supreme Court and won. Sadly, he died in an auto crash in 1972.

This landmark decision encouraged those willing to cross their racial lines in the south to do so in search of love and happiness. Thus, between 1970 and 2004, the number of interracial marriages in the southern region increased from mere 310,000 to nearly 1.3m. A recent study finds that 8.4 per cent of all current U.S. marriages are interracial, up from 3.2 per cent in 1980. About 4.8m interracial marriages were recorded in diversified America between 2010 and 2012.

The statistics include Nigerians in diaspora who crossed their colour and ethnic lines and found love. Some of these Nigerians, especially females, have taken to the social media to celebrate and share their experiences and even documenting their weddings. It’s a new dimension to a lifestyle considered, years ago, an outcast behaviour: to marry outside your culture and colour.

Love is colourless. There exists an everyday opportunity to socialise in public or professional places and institutions. Persons of all races and ages, daily enter the labour force, not sure where and which race love will come from. Nigerian born Amobi Agu met his wife, Dena, at a work place environment in United States. Agu explained thus, “We were co-workers. After she left the company, we started dating. We dated for over six years and broke off a few times. When I formally introduced my wife to my family, they were very supportive. We had a very rough time with her family. But Jebose, our faith sustained us because we know according to the word of God we all are His children. Christ did not die for any race but for all sinners. We are truly blessed to be surrounded by friends and families that know us and have been loving and supportive. I am who God made me to be, I cannot change that and I’m called to love my fellow human being just as Christ loves us. A friend once told me, “Your happiness should not depend on another man… We have a sense of what the society generally thinks, but once people get to know you they become less resistant and accept us as who we are: friendly family.”

Ndukwe Bassey Kalu was a nurse at the psychiatric unit of Central Prison in southern United States when he met his wife, Amber Lea. Every day, his eyes stirred at Amber, one of the female sergeants on guard at the prison. The stir was mutual and soon, they began a blooming romance that matured into marriage.

Amobi Agus

“Jebose, we dated for three years before getting married. My family members were not thrilled that I was going to marry a beautiful white woman. I am from a part of Nigeria where marrying outside the culture is frowned upon. So being married to a white girl is seen as strange. Initially, my older brother pleaded with me not to marry her. But today, they are best friends. It’s so funny. My family said they just wanted me to be happy. I was not looking for love when I met my wife but it was love at first sight. I was drunk with love. I still remember the first time we kissed at her work station. On my way home from work after the kiss, a police officer noticed my erratic driving, pulled me over and asked if I had been drinking. I pointed to my nursing uniform while explaining that I was just getting off work. Her first kiss got me drunk. My wife is my soul mate. She just happened to be white. I would have been a fool and the worst racist not to marry her. Colour was never the factor initially, but racist remarks from both whites and African American co-workers (who felt and acted as if I was taking away their beautiful God-given female colleague from them) actually helped to strengthen our bond. It is sad that people judge people by skin colour; it truly baffles me. I can’t comprehend it. When I see or hear about stuff on television and radio, they seem like stories from another planet.”

Amber Lea Kalu, the charming woman in Ndukwe’s life, shared her feelings in interracial marriage with her Nigerian husband.

“We try to look at problems from different perspectives. Understanding and educating each other on customs, rituals and taboos have been a task and great eye opener; trying to understand why each other feels the way they do. For instance, sometimes I think ND is being mean by the stern way he talks, but he is not really mean, it’s just the way Nigerians talk. We also have differences many times about news, events, but we have to learn to agree to disagree. Reactions from both our families have been overwhelming and enchanting. I do sense a feeling of discomfort from my cousins when we have a big gathering of Nigerians in the house. I don’t think they are used to being around a big group of people of colour. They don’t have a problem, but they are used to being around big groups of white people generally. If you are not used to Nigerians, it could be overwhelming. I say this because Nigerians as majority, are very loud. If you don’t know better, you would think everyone is about to start fighting. I used to ask ND if his aunt was mad when she was talking on the phone. Oh, my mom did state that she doesn’t like when she is around people that don’t speak English, since she knows they can speak English. Americans tend to feel it is rude, for some reason they tend to feel people are talking about them if they are speaking their language. That is the hardest part for her to deal with.”

Though objections to interracial marriages and relationships still exist, the reasons few object are that interracial marriages are unstable and will fail because of the contrast in cultural identification, the different social environment of individuals involved and the families’ religious beliefs.

Interracial marriages, regardless of these views have increased race relations, race identity and understanding, positive cultural equality between blacks and whites.



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