It is said that old age has no definite definition though in developed countries, old age is said to begin at 68 years. In developing countries, however, old age can begin as early as mid-40s or as late as the 70s. But the United Nations considers old age to be 60 years.
Life expectancy in developed countries is up to 78 to 80 years but life can go as much over 80 years in 39 countries recently surveyed none of which is in Africa. In a survey on Demographics and Life Expectancy by Worldomter titled ‘Life Expectancy in the world from 1955 to Present’, life expectancy in Nigeria is put at 55+ years. This means in effect that Nigerians who live above the age of 60 are just enjoying bonuses.
With this background, I find it most appalling that an old man in Nigeria can still marry a young woman and produce children.
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I have never been against polygamy. It is a good thing for those who can be just. But if you fear that you shall not be able to deal with your wives with justice, then marry only one. That, according to the Qur’an chapter 4 verse 3, “will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice”.
What I have been advising against is old men marrying young girls and producing children at old age. These type of men, as I have always said, either die and leave small children for their older children to take care of when the older children already have their own children to take care of, or the children are off loaded onto the streets, after their death.
The consequences are that families are now headed by young family heads who are themselves overwhelmed by their personal challenges. Discipline, feeding, clothing, shelter and payment of school fees are left to mothers and young adults who are themselves poor.
At times rich people take life for granted. In their lifetime when they can afford to maintain large families, they keep giving birth to children who, of course, they maintain. But what happens after their death is better imagined. If a man is rich it does not necessarily mean that his children can be rich as well. Being rich is not sexually transmitted.
This is not to say that poverty can be sexually transmitted. But the tendency to be poor is more with people without education, a job or a livelihood particularly where there is over population even if the over populated is in a family especially if they live in rural areas or urban slums.
I wish wealthy people know that wealth is not meant to be spent or exhausted on maintenance of family members only. For me, to be beneficial to others for longer, wealth is supposed to be multiplied through investment and setting up of industries to create jobs for generations yet unborn.
Therefore since life expectancy is 55+ years in Nigeria, marrying after 55 years of age and be stressing oneself in paying school fees after 60 years of age or stressing one’s older children in paying old papa’s children’s school fees which is over stressing not only one’s self but stressing the young adults in this increasingly challenging life.
If you feel the need to marry at the age of 60 (and there men who may have the need), since I know polygamy is good, why not marry a widow or a divorcee (and there are plenty) who may have children from a previous marriage and who are working or carrying on a business and can pay their children’s expenses?
In any case never should one expect that everybody will be married in their lifetime. If you don’t have females or males in your family that are never married, you must know some in your neighbourhood.
Don’t get me wrong. Life is all about how Allah willed it to be. Everything happens by the will of Allah. Whatever He wills happens, and whatever He does not will does not happen. However, as Shaikh Muhammad Saalih Al-Munajjid explains, “belief in al-qadar does not contradict the idea that a person has free will with regard to actions in which he has free choice”.
I know with ASUU strike and lack of jobs after graduation some of you guys may marry well into their 30s. But please choose wisely.
- Dasin is a former member of House of Reps from Adamawa State