Are we hearing wedding bells soon? Perhaps planning with a Kenyan woman and wondering what the planning and process is like? Well, keep reading this article to know the nitty gritty of planning and the process of a typical Kenyan wedding, a black affair I tell you! What comes to your mind when you hear about Kenya? Is it the era of 2008-2016,or the Obama presidency? Do you think of it as the home of athletes smashing world records in Rio; the land of the Big 5? Are you going deep to think of it as the land where politicians usually compete with their stomach instead of manifestos or ideologies, the very land that birthed President Obama’s grandfather, and who in his days wanted so badly that his son gain western education? Do you simply know Kenya as the home of Lake Victoria? If you’ve thought all these about Kenya, trust me you know stuff, and you are heading somewhere! Let me drop the biggest here for you: Kenya is a haven of beautiful women, the land of angels you can call it. If you happen to have landed on your angel, you do need to be fully aware of the tribe she comes from.
Why go the tribe way?
Photo credit:The Knot
Knowing the tribe is important because this will hugely determine the norms around your wedding, and even many essentials after that. Kenya is made up of 43 tribes with Asians recently acquiring the status of the 44th tribe of Kenya thanks to their contribution to the socio-economic development of the home of the city under the sun. Kenya has many wedding traditions that vary from tribe to tribe. Some tribes perform traditional weddings, others religious weddings, and some a blend of both. Every tribe has its own customary marriage procedures.
Most tribes in Kenya wedding process and planning involve more than one meeting between the involved families. The introduction is the first meeting where the man visits the bride’s parents and states that he is interested in the daughter’s hand in marriage, of course after a proposal to the bride. The second meeting involves the negotiation of the bride price between the two families. The final meeting involves the actual payment of bride price. After the settlement of the bride price, wedding plans can start. For most tribes, all the negotiations are usually done by the fathers and uncles from both sides. The groom and the bride are there to be seen and not to be heard, interesting right? Don’t be surprised if the total education price tuition fees for the bride are mentioned in the dowry negotiations!
The role of women in a typical Kenyan bride-price negotiation is to cook and serve the guests. Women are not allowed to talk unless they are spoken to. In most tribes the bride is normally hidden and she is only called or summoned to confirm that indeed the groom she is looking at is the “right one.” These negotiations in Kenyan tribes involve a lot of feasting, and just to be on the safe side, make sure you go there with an empty stomach as there will be plenty to eat. Note that we blacks get frustrated when visitors don’t eat, so eat you must!
Photo credit:The Standard– “Ruracio ceremony in progress, groom trying to identify the bride if he selects the wrong bride he is liable to pay a hefty fine.
Series of Dowry Payments
Having married my beautiful wife, from the Kikuyu community, the dowry payments, just as mentioned above, precedes the wedding ceremony. Here, the dowry payment is in a series of five events. First, you get to introduce yourself to the bride’s family home, which comes with a payment.
Secondly, plant a branch of a tree to open a door for dowry negotiations. If you can’t dig and plant, you’ve got to pay to get it done for you! The third payment is “Ruracio” which is the actual dowry payment and this is not paid once- it lasts for a lifetime. Think mortgage! The fourth step is the bride’s family getting to know the groom’s homestead, and there’s a payment for that. The fifth and the last is the traditional Kikuyu wedding which is compulsory. Whether you choose to do a church wedding after the traditional wedding it is at your discretion, but the traditional one is a must, and there’s a payment for that -along with your expenses to cater for the event.
The bride-price payment is very critical since in the event the wife dies while you are yet to finish paying, you’ll lose the custody of the kids you had with her. The Kikuyu marriage comes with a serious oath, so be very sure she is the one thick or thin. Even if she becomes sick or turns some of kind a legit nuisance (one that the community can verify), you can’t put here away. You can only build a separate house for her. You will not be allowed to chase her away.
You’ve learned about the serious planning and process that may come with most weddings in Kenya depending on the tribes you are heading, approaching a woman to date let alone take things further requires all your heads in the sound. You can’t approach this lightly. Now you are so ready to hook up for good with your Kenyan bride. Go get her!
Your turn: what are the wedding plaining and process in your culture? If you are a Kenyan living in the US diaspora, how do you go about these traditions?? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.