What Is The Importance Of Traditional Marriage In Africa?
The traditional wedding is an exceptionally respected tradition within Africa, and this is due to our deeply rooted appreciation for the notion of family.
In this part of the world, a marriage is more than bringing two people together. It involves way more than falling in love and wearing a wedding band; along with promises of staying with your spouse for life. Marriage in Africa entails much more. It involves the joining of families and a lot of traditions. Thus, the importance of traditional marriage in Africa cannot be overemphasized.
Even though Africans mostly are either Christian or Muslim, and marry according to their religions; couples must also perform traditional marriage rights. This is if they want their marriage recognized according to their native laws.
What Is The Importance of Traditional Marriage In Africa?
Traditional marriages in Africa are important for the following reasons:
- African weddings are a spiritual and social family affair and involve the combining of two lives, two families, and even two communities!
- Marriage is sacred in Africa and beyond; because it solidifies relationships that enrich communities and nations by bringing forth new life and new hope.
- In African societies, the people see marriage as proof that a man is mature and is capable of taking care of the family he will build with his wife.
- Marriage is also seen as means of expanding kinship ties, as a marriage takes place between two families not just between a man and a woman who are in love as is the case in the western world today.
- African traditional marriage is also seen as a source of continuity, thanks to the children that will be born of the union.
Traditional marriage in different African tribes
In the Bemba culture of Zambia, marriage starts with a class called Bana Chimbusa, a secret counselling session for the bride. Then there's the Chilanga Mulilo, where the bride’s family takes different family dishes and presents them to the groom’s family, giving a symbolic preview of what the groom will be eating after the wedding. Nights before the wedding, there are a lot of dance parties, a good warmup for the ceremony, or the Ama Shikulo, an official merging of the two families where people go up and give advice and best wishes to the couple.
At the Swahili wedding, there's a separation between the men and the women. While the bride attends the Henna party the night before the wedding, the men do the Kirumbizi. It's a fighting dance that the men usually perform to the music of drums and a flute. Next is the Nikah, the vows ceremony; after which the bride's family invites the groom to a luncheon called the Walima. The wedding climaxes as the groom picks up his wife. There is a dance and music-filled procession as they head to their new home.
The Himba traditional marriage
From the Kunene Region of Northern Namibia, The Himba people “kidnap” the bride before her big day. But this is only to work on wardrobe and have her dressed in a pure leather headdress called an okori. Her skin and hair are smeared with herbs and butterfat and crowned in expensive jewelry. After the ceremony, the groom’s family plasters the bride in butterfat ointment, marking her acceptance into the family.
The Zulu traditional wedding ceremony, or Umabo, usually takes place after a white wedding. This follows the dowry ceremony, lobola; the bringing of gifts for the bride’s mother and close family; or Izibizo and Umbondo, where the bride brings different household groceries for her soon-to-be family. On the big day, a Zulu bride will change her outfit at least three different times to convey to her in-laws her beauty in different styles and colors.
Among the Nuer people of Southern Sudan, the groom must pay 20-40 cows. After various celebrations and ceremonies, the wedding is still not complete up until the wife has birthed two children. If the wife only bears one child and the husband asks for a divorce, he will choose between his cows or custody of the child.
Marriage in the Maasai Tribe consists of a tedious process of courtship. The admirer must show his appreciation to his wife through the giving of a gift. And this is usually a chain, then he must give out strong drinks to his newly-added family members, his in-laws. Once the parents approve, the groom must then give at least three cows and two sheep; one sheep is slaughtered and its fat is used to decorate the bride’s gown.
Moroccan traditional marriage
The Moroccan marriage celebration includes several ceremonies that can last between three days to a week. After an agreement from witnesses and the Adoul (Notary), the couple exchange gifts such as jewelry and shoes. Two days before the wedding, the bride goes to the Hamam, a traditional sauna. The families see this as an act of purification. Then the next event is the Hennaya, where the bride and friends receive symbolic motifs as a lucky charm. The wedding day is full of Quranic verse recitals, white caftans, matching jewelry, food, dance and, of course, music.