Social media era
Look all over the social media networks and you’ll be hypnotised by the barrage of proposal photos and videos. Men going on their kneels to propose to the love of their lives. Ladies, with their stretched out hands, catching all the necessary feelings for that special moment — looking overly surprised for what may eventually happen in their relationship. Everyone around keeping appointment with amazed expressions, begging and the lady to accept and let the gentleman get off his bent knee. Kneeling to propose marriage to a lady sure has more fanfare than the excitement from spectators when a star athlete is close to the finish line.
And, because of the influence and power of social media today, having a quiet and solemn proposal now seem like the proverbial poop no one wants to get close to or touch – the smell is repulsive. I may be wrong, but, I am scared for men tomorrow, who want to do it quietly, and what they will be met with is a partner who accuses them of not loving them enough to make the necessary noise and make it social media worthy.
A tradition we all follow today mostly because other people do it and we see it all the time on our phones — or we just don’t have a clue, it’s a western/modern/progressive thing to do, let’s just do it and “satisfy all righteousness,” – prior to getting married. Yes, it is all nice and lovey-dovey when you do it because you love your partner and you’re ready to take the relationship to the next level. Anyway, do you have an idea where kneeling to propose originated from and for which purpose it was done in the past?
Not some vision
Do you have an idea why the ring was introduced into the whole ‘kneeling to propose’ setup? You can be sure it did not originate from one man seeing a heavenly vision and claiming that God has shown us how the man should go about proposing to a woman. I am saying that because this is one very strong tradition today.
For my people in Nigeria, particularly any man looking to marry a Yoruba lady, I see no reason why they should go on bended knee to propose. It tastes in my brain like what I would call “double jeopardy.” This is my personal opinion and it has nothing to do stated rules or laws. More on that in subsequent paragraphs.
The act of kneeling to propose marriage
It may interest you to know that, this tradition of going on bended knee to propose marriage to a lady, is completely a modern fabrication. There’s no part of human history where it was recorded that men went on one knee to propose marriage. However, the only known record of such happening between a man and a woman was in the Middle Ages (9th to 15th century).
The man is of humble birth, the lady is of noble birth; the man goes on one knee singing her praises and reads love poems and worships her. This is done to show her his loyalty and ready to serve because she is of higher status than him. This is total submission to her whims and caprices, and it has nothing to do with love or marriage. During these times the women were usually married, and the man on his kneels only came to serve her.
In the Middle Ages, it was only the nobles and the wealthy that were capable of organizing engagements between their families. This was done to bring and grow their businesses together — business arrangement. And there was no record of kneeling between them. The engagements were done with the man and lady standing upright all through the event.
Throughout Europe kneeling used to be a sign of respect, humility and being subservient to higher and religious authorities. Knights would kneel before their lord when honors were being presented to them. In times of war, the conquered would kneel before his conqueror. Kneeling before a lady to propose marriage actually started around the 19th century, when men began go on one knee to profess love and, in some cases, men did this to ask favour from the woman they were going to marry.
The proposal and engagement ring
The diamond ring
In the 1800s there was a mining company that found abundant deposit of diamond in Africa, and they established a company called De Beers to deal in the business of it. Consequently it was in the 1930s and 40s that they went on an aggressive advertising campaign in order to makes sales from the rich deposit of diamond they had in store. The media campaign was about making people think diamond was really scare, and as such, precious; making it the only viable means for men to propose marriage to the women they intended to marry. The “diamond are forever” campaign was a huge success till this day.
Kneeling to propose to a Yoruba lady
Remember I said it is a “double jeopardy” situation when you go on one knee to propose marriage to that Yoruba lady.
What actually makes it a “double jeopardy” is the second act of obeisance (prostration) where you and your families, friends, well wishers and your ancestors will go before your bride’s families and ancestors to supplicate for her hand in marriage. The first one being that you went on one knee to ask her to marry you. Before your forefathers and God almighty, nothing else should have more significance than your whole community going to prostrate for your partners hand in marriage.
Stop disgracing your ancestors by pandering to what is a “modern” way of doing it. That’s my take on this matter. Thank you very much.
To wrap it up. Kneeling to propose marriage to a lady did not originally start the ‘rules of engagement’ between a man and his marriage interest. It began as a way of showing respect to someone of higher status and show obedience to religious entities. The general acceptance of diamond rings as a symbol of worthy proposal act was actually brought about by the a company De Beers, with their massive ad campaign tagged “Diamonds Are Forever” and it has been a major success till date.
Thank you very much.