Thought and Practice: A Journal of the Philosophical Association of Kenya

Volume 6, Issue 1, June 2014

Emmanuel Ifeanyi Ani
Pages 49-61

From Marriage to Political Leadership: Lessons in Social Competencies from the Igbo Conception of Marriage

Owing most probably to Western-style modernization, marriage is increasingly understood to be a business strictly for married couples. However, I argue that this is an error, as many inexperienced couples are left to their own devices, and thereby often fail to utilize marriage to acquire the social competencies that are crucial to wider social responsibilities, including political leadership. The modern atomic conception of marriage is influenced by the Kantinspired Western conception of moral autonomy. Nevertheless, I reject this conception as excessively absolutist, and argue that moral autonomy can be tempered by lack of experience, human desire and circumstantial pressures in life. Many African societies view marriage as a union of societies rather than that of individuals, and I argue that the moral support offered by the extended family and the community at large is ultimately geared to inculcate in the spouses inter-personal and social skills of restraint, prudence, tolerance, constructive criticism and other virtues desperately needed to execute societal responsibilities.