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Opinions of Monday, 13 January 2014

Journaliste: Cameroon Tribune

Easing Life for All

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When the government took the decision several years ago to organize collective marriages, many saw the initiative rather from a human interest point of view. It raised a lot of curiosity, neglecting all the good intentions and new possibilities that the decision carried along.

Unfortunately, these collective marriages are still being considered, for the most part, as some moments for casual entertainment. Last Friday, the Bafoussam 1 Council organized such a ceremony involving some 31 couples. As it was stated at the ceremony, the event is not meant as a test to see if these couples, after several years of living together, still love themselves; neither is it a moment offered to the couples to acquire new dress outfits.

In fact, the underlying philosophy is to ensure regularity and the respect for laws. In Cameroon, a marriage is only recognized as such if it is duly registered in a civil status registration centre or if it is officially performed by a sworn-in Mayor or an assistant Mayor.

The nation's courtrooms are awash with law suits around marriage. Many of these cases are knocked out on the simple account that they were never duly registered because in countless cases, people living together in the name of arrangements made between members of two families and sometimes with a huge progeny, are told, to their utter embarrassment that they are not married. This comes along with some ugly consequences as the refusal to use parental names in the filling of forms.

Many people have often been turned off this useful practice by the financial costs involved, the unavailability of officials, administrative red tape and the phobia for all that requires doing business with public offices because of internecine corruption and other negative perceptions. These collective marriages are meant to clear these perceptions and make the processes much easier for prospective candidates for marriage to grasp.

Moreover, official marriages are also an exigency of the modern State which Cameroon is working hard to build. Even beyond this, a real marriage can only be materialized with a certificate. And such a certificate only comes with a regularly constituted marriage in a civil service centre or in a Council hall with the aim of easing life for all.

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