Rethinking Customary Practices in Cameroon: The Question of The Marriage Symbol
The plural nature of laws in Cameroon has an effect on the application of the laws by the courts. Customary law rules which seems be contrary to the Constitution and which have been abolished by local legislations are still being enforced by the courts. Although, by virtue of the Civil Status Registraton Ordinance, the payment or non-payment of the marriage symbol has no effect on the validity of any marriage celebrated in Cameroon, some courts have insited on the payment of the marriage symbol as a requirement to a valid marriage. The article examines the issue as to whether the requirement that a marriage symbol be paid upon marriage and refunded upon divorce is unconstitutional, “repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience.’ and thus should be abolished. I have argued that while abolition of this requirement should, for the time being, be ignored, the requirement should not be obligatory and thus should have no effect on the validity of a marriage and divorce. The non-enforcement of the CSRO nowadays is largely due to the multiplicity of normative layers. When a case falls under customary law, many judges turn exclusively to customary rules and fail to apply the superseding legislative rules. I have therefore, proposed a unified system of law. A unified system of law would avoid the problem of the judge being confused as to which of the various norms to apply as the legislative provision will be the only law applicable. Any doubt as to its application will therefore be avoided.