Marriage in Congo Felicity Conditions

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Three forms of marriages in Congo include religious marriages, customs and civilian/forced marriages. Each type is carried out in a different way. The Felicity Conditions of Austin (1962) discuss how they are established in the preparatory, sincere and necessary conditions. Consequently, in the three conditions of congratulations, the paper will address some of the marriage criteria in the Congo.
Various marriages and conditions Preparatory Condition: Religious Marriage
The condition requires that the content of the speech is attached in a context that can be conventionally recognized thus, by just making a promise, the event will not be actualized. For instance, when couples say “I do” during a wedding, they commit themselves to the marriage but it does not that they guarantee their staying together forever. By saying I do, both the couples assures one another that they are ready to live as husband and wife but they can still separate on various grounds. In case no one blocks their union at the church, the religious leader will pronounce them as husband and wife, but when either of them fails to say “I do”, the marriage cannot be authorized. A couple can also go through all forms of unions to ensure that they abide by all the cultural expectations. However, religious marriage will be the final stage of celebrating the union after all the civil and customs unions.

Sincerity Condition: Custom Marriage

When it comes to the sincerity condition, the speaker should be sincere in his/her words. Therefore, a promise will only be valid when the speaker has an intention of making it making it a reality. For instance, in Congo, women get and accept marriage proposals and then invites the men to meet her parents and pay dowry later. The parents of the woman organize for a date and present the lady to the man on the basis that he will pay the dowry or finish the remaining bit before the set date. The man and his family are obligated to pay the dowry, which always consists of an amount of money (the actual dowry), drinks, clothing and footwear and two goats (which one is presented to the mother for the virginity of the daughter).

Essential Condition: Civil/Forced Marriage

Essential condition is for couples who have already involved one another in away and one of them already having an obligation. A promise that is made by the obligated party changes his state from obligation to non-obligation. For instance, in Congo when a man impregnates or is responsible for a child as the parent, he is obligated to take care of the child failure to which, he can be charged or penalized by a court of law. Therefore, by marrying the mother of the child and staying with them together reduces the weight of the obligation as the fines might not be imposed as it were in the case where the couples did not stay together. The man is this condition is always under duress.

Personal Active Opinion and Justifications

In religious marriages, the couples are always Christians who intend to obey the Bible. Genesis 2: 18, 24 says that “It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make a helper for him” and “Therefore, shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife and they shall be one flesh.” The Congolese who get married through religious ways commit themselves to the relationship during their weddings, and they do so in churches. However, couples still separate after the union and this might be caused by different reasons as perceived by either or all of the couples.

In a custom marriage, the couples can live together when the dowry payment is incomplete. However, the man is obliged to complete the payment before the set date, and after the completion, a celebration is organized, and the families get to know each other. The practice is in support of an African proverb that says “marriage does not end with just paying a dowry.” Therefore, the woman’s parents have to be considerate to the man’s family in demanding for a full payment of the dowry. The in-laws will form part of the “extended” family and will always be obliged to help when there is a need.


Austin, J. L. (1962). How to Do Things with Words. The William James Lectures Delivered at Harvard University in 1955. [Edited by James O. Urmson.]. Clarendon Press.

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