This article analyzes the public response to the story of a young woman who rejected her fiancé during her wedding ceremony in Bamako, Mali. Controversy over her actions revealed divergent opinions about the rights and responsibilities of individuals regarding marriage and spousal choice in contemporary Malian society, where economic insecurity, tense gender dynamics, and the demands of kin undermine young persons’ aspirations for romantic fulfillment and companionate marriage. Using evidence from online discussion forums, ethnographic interviews, and focus-group discussions conducted in Bamako, this article explores the gap separating young Bamako residents’ ideals of marriage from their lived realities. It finds that concerns about materialism in love and marriage are shared by young men and women alike, indicating deepening uncertainty over ongoing social change.


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pp. 28-46
Launched on MUSE
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