Marriage In Africa: 5 Most Unusual African Marriage Traditions

A wedding ceremony is an exceptionally respected tradition within Africa due to the deeply rooted appreciation for the concept of family all over the continent. To be discussed in this article are 5 traditional African Marriages that will totally stun you:

1. The Nuer Wedding

The groom is expected to bring 20-40 cows for his bride prior to or on the wedding day. The Nuer people are from Southern Sudan. The marriage is also not complete or secure until the woman is able to deliver at least two children. The marriage will be officially tied after the third child. The wife is given a time frame to give birth and if she’s not able to by the end of the time frame, the husband is allowed to seek for a divorce. Proceeding a decision to divorce, the man would get back at least 1 cattle from the bride’s family or custody of the first child.

2. Ndzundza Ndebele of South Africa

Their weddings are done in threefolds. A prerequisite for this traditional marriage is that the bride has to be isolated and taken care of by older women in her home. Thereafter, the first part of the wedding which requires a dowry to be paid in form of livestock to the family of the bride, then the wife moves in with her husband. The second step happens after the bride’s first child. She now wears an “ijogolo”, an apron that signifies her motherhood. The last process is when the groom appreciates his wife for bearing him a child and to honour her for everything she has done for him till that date. If it happens that the woman does not bear a child after a stipulated time, the marriage is nullified and the groom’s family will be refunded the dowry fully or partially.

3. Maasai of Kenya and Tanzania

The wedding is prepared and arranged without the consent of the bride and her mother. The dowry which is collected from the groom’s family is presented to the bride’s family and the mother of the bride gets a bull as a gift. The wedding kicks off with a cup of fresh blood that is consumed by the groom’s family and friends in attendance. The father of the bride blesses her by spitting on her head and breasts before she leaves. As she leaves the house, she performs a traditional dance with “wooden sticks”. It is believed that during her departure, the bride must never look back to her old home, else she would turn to stone. The last rite of the wedding is when the bride’s mother goes into a hut with her gifted bull which signifies a departure of one of their family member into a new home.

4. Frafra of Ghana

The bride is kidnapped and taken as hostage by the groom’s family. She is heavily guarded against escape while the groom’s family visit her family with kola nuts, guinea fowls and tobacco to inform them of the whereabouts of their daughter. Their marriage proposal is then accepted. A dog, two goats and several fowls are killed, seasoned and taken to the girl’s home in a ceremony known as the “hand running”. The dowry is now presented to the family consisting 4 cows, several guinea fowls, kola nuts and money.

5. Rashaida tribe

In this tribe, a marriage ceremony is a seven-day event. Bridewealth includes clothes, camels, jewellery and cash. It is the bride’s responsibility to arrange and decorate the tent where marriage festivities will be held while the groom kills a camel. Festivities such as drumming, dancing and camel racing. During the first 6 days of the festivities, the bride is secluded, only accessible to her mother, sisters and other wives of her father, while the groom and other men in the family celebrate. She gets to sneak into her husband’s tent for the first six nights and leave before sunrise. Only on the seventh day of celebrations can she be seen with her husband.

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