importance of bridewealth in africa

Once given to the father of the bride through his spokesperson, he could use it in a variety of ways, one of them being to pay for the bridewealth of his sons. Thirdly, animals served as evidence that bridewealth was paid. One could rely on others to support him. In his case, paying bridewealth was an obstacle but it was ‘a must’. The mother of the bride was the one to receive “ayie” (consent money). First of all, bridewealth was an expression of the willingness of the boy to marry a girl. Various authors referred to in the literature review seemed to suggest that the practice of bridewealth would continue in spite of its above mentioned disadvantages and socio-cultural changes taking place, especially in modern cities such like Nairobi. The respondents described it as a “traditional certificate”, “proof of validity” and a “signature of marriage”. Ngubane (1987) talked about disadvantages of ‘monetisation’ of bridewealth such as the transaction becoming privatized, individualized, and commercialized. Among the Luo, it was “an essential obligation that legitimizes an adult into … On the community level, which by implication would involve both families, the parents of the bride and the groom, and the couple, bridewealth legalized the marriage. Then, bridewealth was to be returned to the family of the groom. The parents of the girl were the ones to agree on the amount of bridewealth to be paid. practice bridewealth). The household was the hub of social life, and its layout symbolically expressed the relationships between men, women, cattle and the ancestors. It stabilized marriage by involving many people in collecting it and receiving it. Bridewealth was usually paid in form of livestock, especially the cattle, foodstuff and money (Taylor, 1963, p. 72). It raises the status of the lady’s family and the man’s family in terms of ownership; It could be of help to less privileged members of groom’s family; It could be used to pay for the bridewealth of the sons; It uplifted the economic status by enabling them to acquire more property. Also bridewealth was seen as a necessary condition of marriage without which one would be cursed (cf. The wife will also be sent a school where she is educated on her roles as a wife and importance of marriage. Bridewealth seemed to be an indispensable condition of marriage. A 49 year old Taita man was interviewed concerning bridewealth. The advantages of bridewealth as found in the field research correspond closely to the one mentioned by such popular writers as Mbiti and Magesa and what Prof Achola presented in his class. Mbiti (1969, p. 140, 1975, p. 108), Magesa (1997, p. 122) and Waruta (2005, p. 107), emphasized that bridewealth should not be seen in terms of ‘payment’ for the girl – it was rather a way of fostering her dignity by showing her how important she was for the groom. We argue that the payment of bridewealth from a man‟s to a woman‟s family triggers reciprocal obligations on the part of the woman. River Estate. However, these days, in some cases, bridewealth is a means of distorting those relationships; It is worth mentioning that those who stressed that the practice of bridewealth would continue did not base their argument on its many advantages, but invariably rooted it in the fact that it was a tradition to be followed and as such it should and would not be changed. Sometimes, marriages of the sons could be delayed because they had to wait for bridewealth for their sister to be given so that they could get necessary means to pay it (Koyango-Male, 1984, p. 17). [11] Many Africans are unable to produce the money required to fund a traditional wedding and pay dowry. One of the crucial rites of passage is marriage. (2019). That rope signifies that cow was given by the father. For young people bridewealth may be an obstacle in marrying because of its amount. He wants to find out whether the traditional understanding of bridewealth has been affected as a result of those changes. As a result, some engagements are broken, some couples elope and others live together, until they can afford dowry and a wedding while others register their marriages secretly” (2005, p. 54). Within many African communities, such as Nigerian ethnic groups, the engagement is where the traditional practices are performed. The father would keep some animals as a sign of the marriage having been contracted (cf. Shorter summarized it by saying that bridewealth was “a legal document signifying that the marriage has taken place and that the husband has conjugal rights. App.#, no. Some young people could not marry, either traditionally or in the Church, because they would not be able to raise it. Families are of supreme importance in Africa, and the bridewealth payment cements this relationship. Many people were involved in the process of bridewealth. Waruta (2005, p. 101) said that “if the ancestors are angry, one of the most important and basic institution in African society concerning which they have cause to be angry is that of marriage and family”. It is of traditional belief that the child does not know when he is ready to marry, therefore the parents will make the decision for them. [9] This standpoint is particularly polarizing and has not been backed up by scientific data. This is where the bride inherits gifts from her family with the purpose of using them within her new home. What is bridewealth Marriage was an important rite of passage in Africa (Waruta, 2005, p. 103, Bikorwomuhangi, 2005, p. 1). Ngubane, H, (1987), The consequences for women of marriage payments in a society with patrilineal descent’, In Parkins, D. and Nyamwaya, D (Eds). App.#, no. The interest of the boy in marrying a girl would be the first step in the process of paying bridewealth. They defined bridewealth as money or a token of some kind as agreed upon that is given in exchange for the bride. Returning bridewealth meant dissolution of marriage. In many traditional African societies the husband could not assume full rights to the sexual, economic, or procreative powers of his wife until a standard portion of the bridewealth had been transferred. Bridewealth stabilizes the marriage…” (1998, p. 90). Much has been made of this system as a means of out-and-out purchase, and in some parts … App.#, no. One refers to the African tradition of "bridewealth" i.e., the payment of dowry (so many cows or goats) by the man's family to the family of the girl whose hand he was seeking. It is common for the families to choose a colour to abide to in their dress code. It’s especially widespread throughout sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia. They would be the first ones to whom the son would communicate his desire to marry. Such a situation contributes to the spread of promiscuity and HIV/AIDS (cf. The researcher found that the understanding of bridewealth among the Luo residents of Nairobi was similar to the one found in books. Mbiti defined it as “a token of gratitude on the part of the bridegroom’s people to those of the bride, for their care over her and for allowing her to become his wife. The process of paying and receiving bridewealth was a source of respect for both families in their respective communities. App.#, no. 13). Barker, C. Pistrang, N. Elliott, R. (2002). 4). App.#, no. Such an agreement depended upon their attachment to the traditions and their understanding of the role of bridewealth. This research could be a starting point for a further research that would be larger in its scope. Kisembo supported that view by saying that “when bridewealth is demanded in cash, it becomes more difficult to collect” (1998, p. 210). 7); Bridewealth was a means of binding individuals and communities/ethnic groups together. This practice is very common among the animist and the Muslim communities. It was due to several factors. 4 people were interviewed: One Kikuyu lady, one Luo lady. ), Holding the World Together: African Women in Changing Perspective (pp. On the side of the bride (“dhako”) the elders, the father and elder brothers could participate in it. marriage processes across sub-Saharan Africa suggests that bridewealth limits women’s agency and autonomy, especially in reproductive decision-making (Ansell 2001; Frost and Nii-Amoo Dodoo 2010; Horne et al. Bridewealth was given because it opens the door to two families to know each other. However, if they saw it in terms of acquiring wealth, a high amount, difficult to pay, could be quoted by them (cf. 5). Enormous economic growth within the continent has caused the bridewealth payment to inflate so significantly that many couples are now straying from the tradition, instead opting for other forms of marriage. 10). The fa… Such a project would involve parents, who often are attached to traditions and yet living in situations where those traditions are difficult to fulfill, and Church leaders. The respondent stressed that if one did not pay bridewealth for his wife, he could not get it for his daughter. App.#, no. Some academics believe bridewealth leads to marriage stability, as the bride's family will put pressure on the daughter to remain in the marriage if the payment made was of significant value. They are often encouraged against marrying for love or sexual attraction. App.#, no. At the same time, it is clear that even though the Luo traditions, as well as of other communities, are being challenged yet, the Luo respondents were quite attached to their traditions, bridewealth being one of them. Two respondents mentioned that “the father of the groom was supposed to provide at least one cow for bridewealth of his son. Bridewealth was a crucial element in marriage negotiations. Since the families would usually belong to different clans and communities, bridewealth contributed to forming relationships between them. Catholic African communities most commonly dress in western wedding attire (white dress for women and a suit for men) for the religious ceremony and will utilize their communities’ traditional attire for other phases of the marriage process. Bikorwomuhangi, E. (2005), “Traditional Marriage among the Luo of Kenya” In Katola, M(ed). Koyango-Male claimed that “in general, payment of bridewealth was never completed, and this to some extent rejuvenated the marriage…” (1984, p. 56). It was a means of strengthening relationships, legalizing marriage and legalizing children. These days some young people choose not to pay it and yet they want to live together. Bridewealth is when a groom's family pays the bride's family in traditional forms such as livestock, food and clothing to confirm the marriage. Bridewealth is still very much practiced, though the form of payment changed, at least in some instances, from animals, honey, local brew to case. It is easy to see bridewealth as a purely or predominantly commercial transaction which is introduced into engagement and marriage in violation of human dignity. Waruta enumerated other reasons such as: introduction of monetary economies, the use of western education system, and a shift from kinship systems of relations to a more individualistic one (2005, p. 101). There is no upper limit, it depends upon your generosity” (cf. Fostering of that life force took place through marriage, which was “the most responsible phase in life” (Mbiti, 1975, p. 104). Again, such an approach confirmed Mbiti’ statement that “African are notoriously religious” (1969, p. I); Bridewealth negotiations mostly involved men. However, if there were children born in that marriage, bridewealth was not to be returned; If there were problems in the family, and the bridewealth was spent, it, somehow, forced the wife to continue staying in an abuse relationship; If bridewealth was given in livestock, if there was a disease, it could be easily lost; In case of the death of the wife before bridewealth was completed, it could create tension between the husband and late wife’s family concerning the place of burial; The institution of bridewealth could be used as a means of abusing and disrespecting the bride. The World Book Encyclopedia states that 40% of Africans identify as Christian while 45% are Muslim. App.#, no. 3). It was “the most responsible phase in life” (Mbiti, 1975, p. 104). Both groups saw bridewealth and polygyny as instruments of male domination and sym-bols of women's inferior status. Throughout the continent many individuals are electing for non-traditional forms of marriage that do not abide to traditional African marriage customs or more modern religious customs. 2 couples were interviewed: a Kisii couple and a Taita couple. O’Donovan (2005, pp. His task consisted of coming up with a set of categories, and then to analyze his text again in order to find out how many instances fall into that category (Dominik, 2007, p.53). Also, it serves as a tool against easy divorce. He believes that such a practice should not happen among Christians. The process of negotiating and paying bridewealth had a lot of impact on the community. The distribution of bridewealth among various members of one’s family helped to strengthen relationships within that family and acquire wealth. The disadvantages, as found in the field research, correspond to what contemporary writers such as Waruta, O’Donovan and Kisembo pointed out to claiming that the practice of bridewealth was influenced by economic and cultural factors and caused some problems in preparation for marriage. Such an approach is seen as a way of avoiding commitment and contributes to the phenomenon of ‘come-and-stay’. One Luo respondent defined bridewealth (“nyombo”) as a “payment that is given in exchange for the girl” (cf. 8). She defined bridewealth as a “traditional thing, a token of thanksgiving for raising up, and educating the girl, a way of saying thank you”. 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