Is Kissing Part of the African Culture of Love?


After watching a Nollywood movie recently, I was wondering about Nigerians and kissing. Is kissing part of Nigerian or African culture? I didn't have to think too far to know the partial answer to that. After writing "you may kiss the bride" into our wedding program - and getting the approval of the officiating priest - the Bishop who handled the vows refused to say it. He was using the booklet o, but when he got to that part, he said "not on his watch" and skipped the lines. I was so mad. Can you feel that I'm still beefing? LOL...

Anyway, no one needs to tell me that some Nigerians, and not just the older ones, are not cool with kissing. I  remember also when I had to meet Atala at the Lagos airport once and jumped into his arms for a kiss when he came out. Most people were like hey, stop, what is that, move on. And no, we were not blocking anyone. But there is the question, is it the kissing that they aren't used to, or the public nature of it?

I decided to make Google search my friend, thinking of a little debate after Kiru Taye's first historical romance was published and a Nigerian reviewer felt the love scenes were probably unrealistic. But the question remains, who really knows? These things were not documented as far as I know.



Imagine my pleasurable surprise in finding that someone is documenting what is happening contemporaneously, by asking questions. Questions such as, How do Africans Kiss, Do Africans Kiss, Do you see Africans kiss, what about your parents?"

Eaten By The Heart is a video installation and documentary project conceived, produced and directed by film-maker and video artist, Zina Saro-Wiwa. ... the piece explores intimacy, heartbreak and love performances among Africans and African Diasporans.

Eaten By The Heart forms part of Zina’s video performance practice which currently focuses on the mapping of emotional landscapes, its resulting performative behaviors and cross-cultural implications. She states: “So many of us cite with confidence that Love Is Universal. But the performance of love is, it seems, cultural. I wonder how the impact of how we choreograph and culturally organize the performance of love impacts what we feel inside and who we become.”

Personally, I don't think Africans consider kissing as a cultural performance of love. I have not ever seen my parents kiss until their 25th wedding anniversary when my dad gave my mum a peck on the cheek in front of a packed church. Talk about PDA, yes, I learnt from the best. :)

OK, what I think is this. Younger people are kissing. I think those of us born in the seventies, eighties and nineties have seen kissing on TV so much as a part of expressing romantic love that we've imbibed it and use it in our own relationships. Seriously though, I can count on one hand the number of both-African couples older than 30 - I have seen kissing. So, I'm still not sure.

What has been your experience? Do Africans kiss? Do you kiss, will you kiss, how many people have you seen kiss recently? Is it part of our culture? Let's discuss.

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