Why might the dad be unhappy about the engagement in "Marriage is a Private Affair"?

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Nnaemeka's dad is named Okeke. At the beginning of "Marriage is a Private Affair," Nnaemeka and Nene are discussing Okeke's possible reaction to the engagement the young lovers have planned. Nnaemeka knows that Okeke very likely will be "uhappy about the engagement" because Nnaemeka is not following Ibo tradition in his native Nigeria. Nnaemeka moved to the big city of Lagos; however, Okeke still expects that his son will adhere to the traditions of his rural Ibo village. Instead, Nnaemeka falls in love with Nene and decides to marry her.  

There are three specific Ibo traditions that are broken and might cause Okeke to be "unhappy." First, in order to marry Nene, Nnaemeka has to refuse marriage to an Ibo maiden chosen by Okeke. Second, Nene does not fit the mold of an Ibo maiden because she works as a teacher (which Okeke claims is against the Bible). Finally (and most importantly), Okeke will be unhappy because Nene is not of the Ibo tribe. In fact, Okeke is so unhappy with Nnaemeka's choice of wife that he refuses to acknowledge his son or his son's family for eight years.