By Maria Lopes
July 14, 2021
Young girls usually grow up fantasising about dating and marrying for love. But today a good number of Gambian girls and their peers from other parts of the the sub-region are thinking otherwise, as they are confronted by the grim realities of poverty.
While their male counterparts usually opt to risk their lives travelling to Europe via a perilous journey through the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea, the females have fashioned out a way to get to the ‘promised land’ and extricate themselves and their family members from the morass of poverty. Marriage to a Westerner is now a preferred alternative. In these cross-racial marriages, age is just a number.
Much has been written previously about young men who go after Western ladies old enough to be their mothers or grandmothers. There are girls as young as nineteen or twenty that are very willing to get married to a Westerner of up to eighty years or more. For the girl, the end justifies the means. And the end is financial salvation for hers and family.
The desire and rush to get a Western husband is so intense that some people have cashed on it to provide ‘foreign husband search’ services for girls, charging fees to help them locate a man from Europe or North America through online dating sites.
Baba Sanneh, a Gambian in his late thirties, is one of the people in the business. Though he will not go into details of his business, he did admit he makes some good money out of it.
While none of the girls that tied the nuptial cord with an aged European is willing to talk, The Progress Newspaper sought the opinion of some concerned citizens.
Sainabou Nyan believes that a young African girl marrying an old white man in most cases is not for love or to build a family, but for wealth acquisition and for the girl to lift her family out of poverty.
“Most of the girls hope to be taken to Europe after getting married to a Westerner, believing it will transform their living condition; most parents also support and encourage their daughters to marry a white man so the girls will become the breadwinners of their families,” she stated, adding that peer influence is also a major reason why girls are so desperate to get white men as their husband these days.
Nyan advised young girls to be careful and not to engage in such adventures because of money and material things which don’t last forever.
On his part, Lawrence Mendy said: “Girls are desperate to get married to a white husband because of so many reasons; they are guaranteed the opportunity to travel abroad, and in so doing, change the living conditions of their families.”
He noted that most girls also have the mindset that marrying a white man would ensure them a brighter future.
“Some parents support their daughters marring Westerners because they are so proud to say that ‘my daughter won a lottery ticket of opportunity and wealth’, and believe their lives will never be the same again,” he stated further.
He advised the young girls to take their time and make a wise decision for their future, arguing that marrying a white or black man is the same. He also emphasised that the most important thing in marriage is happiness, joy and peace of mind.
Aji Mam Njie, a concerned mother, decried the fact that so many women encourage their daughters to go in for white men and settle down with them so as to help reduce the financial difficulties in the family.
She cautioned young girls to be careful with the white men they follow around because some will just use and dump them. She urged parents to encourage their daughters to make a wise choice in marriage rather than misleading them just to satisfy their own selfish desires.