Panashe Machakaire Midlands State University
Cross-cultural relations/unions refer to circumstances in which people from different cultures agree to stay together as partners.

The motives for this are as varied as the colours of the rainbow.

In some instances people enter such arrangements out of genuine affection for each other. However, in other instances, they turn out to be unions of convenience.

Enduring examples of cross-cultural relations are the marriage between Sir Seretse Khama and Lady Ruth Khama, Cde Herbert Chitepo and Cde Victoria Chitepo, Cde Josiah Chinamano and Cde Ruth Chinamano, Dr Bernard Chidzero and Mrs Micheline Chidzero, among others.

Unions or marriages of convenience are driven by economic, financial, material or other considerations. For example, refugees or asylum seekers, desperate to secure a permanent stay in a country will enter into a union with a citizen of the host country.

In Zimbabwe, the Office of the Registrar-General has reported on nationals from other countries in West Africa, India and Pakistan, who enter into marriages of convenience.

The non-citizen gets Zimbabwean papers, while the Zimbabwean gets security of being with someone who provides for their needs.

There is no affection in this case as there is no commitment binding the parties together, except business, financial or personal gain.

One can almost consider this a form of bribery, because the moment one party fails to fulfil their end of the bargain, the relation/union will have run full cycle. Such unions have limited life spans.

In the majority of cases, this category of unions does not last the distance. When the relationship sours or the other party believes they are not benefiting to the extent they expected, the non-citizen ends up being deported.

Of course, there are others who have been known to run a business based on marrying non-citizens for money. This has made some people wealthy… until something goes wrong or one party rats on the other to the authorities.

The more enterprising ones have been known to marry non-citizens, stay long enough to ensure they siphon money from their “partners” and soon thereafter, get them deported.

And so it goes on, providing rich rewards for the one “conning” their supposed “partners”.

But cross-cultural relations can also be communities of interest, where people are cemented according to their interests. Cross cultural relations can also be in the form of “a royal” marrying “a commoner”.

The two might be true and committed to each other but the “commoner” might not be as welcome and accepted in the family. There is a likelihood that the outsider remains an outcast. The relationship in such cases never lasts primarily because one of the parties feels ostracised.

Against such a background, the relationship/union is likely to be dogged by tensions and disagreements, which end up contributing to the break-up of the union.

In some cases, cross-cultural relations can be of benefit to both parties. This happens where one tolerates and accepts the other even if their beliefs and values differ.

Culture is dynamic and it grows, so ones culture is enriched by incorporating different aspects. This type of union tends to survive longer — the till death do us part type — because it is not predicated on material benefits.

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