Paradoxically, only the poorest adolescents in Africa can be considered full decision makers with respect to their marriages: Only those bereft of kin must make their own decisions in adolescence.
These definitional conundrums make it tempting to discard marriage as a meaningful link to entry into childbearing A recent debate has centered on whether the age at marriage has increased or remained constant in Africa.
Westoff (1992), who analyzed age at first marriage and age at first birth together, believes both are rising.
Examples come from the Akan of Ghana (Oppong, 1974), the Abutia Ewe of Togo (Verdon, 1983), the Anlo Ewe of Togo (Nukunya, 1969), the Creoles of Sierra Leone (Harrell-Bond, 1975) and the Ibo of Nigeria (Meek, 1937, Uchendu, 1965).
Given the political potentials of marriage, family elders are anxious to control when youth marry and whom they marry.
Van de Walle (1993) argues that we will likely find the age at marriage unchanged if we take into account all the variations in survey questions and different types of union.