The man was 32 years old and his wife was 24. 2). Defining it, exploring people involved in it, seeing its advantages and disadvantages and the challenges it faces in the modern society, was a very fruitful endeavor. However, they were also aware of the fact that new factors influenced the practice of bridewealth, making it sometimes a very difficult obligation to fulfill. Since the families would usually belong to different clans and communities, bridewealth contributed to forming relationships between them. 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). Studies performed on students within Ghana showed strong evidence suggesting that young people within Africa are drawn towards civil or religious marriages as opposed to traditional marriages. 11). 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. One Luo respondent defined bridewealth (“nyombo”) as a “payment that is given in exchange for the girl” (cf. People bypass the obligation of bridewealth by living together and not paying it. A 50 year old Kisii, married woman was interviewed. It was motivated by the Christian beliefs – if they did not allow, the girl and the boy could have sex outside marriage. A Luo man said that “to marry it has to be paid. Also, it serves as a tool against easy divorce. Bridewealth (“nyombo” in Luo) was defined by her as“a token given to the parents of the wife as a sign of respect, a sign of reward for bringing up the girl”. Bridewealth and dowry have certain obvious similarities in that they both involve the transmission of property at marriage, the usual interpretation suggesting that what distinguishes them is the direction in which the property travels - in the case of bridewealth, from the husband and his kin to the wife and her kin, and in the case of dowry, vice versa. 26.02.09. rights to children and inheritance. 06.02.09. If he could afford, he would be the main contributor to pay bridewealth. Even though money is a preferred way of paying it, some animals have to be provided as a part of the bridewealth. They are taught from a young age that marriage is about responsibility and providing to their society by having children. Keeping in mind the type of data the researcher was interested in collecting, the researcher believed that semi-structured interviews would be the best choice. Marriage was a sacred duty, wanted by God to promote the community. They defined bridewealth as money or a token of some kind as agreed upon that is given in exchange for the bride. Bridewealth was an integral part of marriage process (Mbiti, 1975, p. 107, Magesa, 1997, p. 122, Warura, 2005, p. 102). It’s especially widespread throughout sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia. Importance Of Bride Wealth In Bridewealth. It was understood in terms of elopement whereby the young believed they could provide bridewealth but poverty or some other circumstances prevented. Bridewealth did not have to be paid in full. They would go to visit the family of the groom and would participate in choosing those who would be sent to the bride’s family to negotiate. Christianity has also had some negative influences because some Churches require a confirmation that bridewealth was paid. If the researcher was to draw some conclusions based on his research findings, literature and class notes review (being aware of the danger of generalization), he would say that. Some parents would ask for some little token to facilitate the marriage. Furthermore, one of those similarities that holds across sub-Saharan societies is the use of bridewealth as a way of “creating alliances between kinship groups” (Anderson, 2007). it could be slaughtered for burial; If bridewealth was not spent, it provided an opportunity for the girl to come back to her parental home. Within many African communities, such as Nigerian ethnic groups, the engagement is where the traditional practices are performed. [6] While this is not a custom of Islamic or Christian marriage, many Africans adopt the traditional practice into their communities creating a strong link between their primary religion and their traditional and cultural beliefs. The parents of the groom would also actively participate in the process of bridewealth. Traditionally speaking, the payment of bride price in Africa is a practice that is as old as time itself. Cohabitation and elopement would be means used to bypass the obligation of bridewealth (Bikorwomuhangi, 2005, p. 4). Although bridewealth remains widely practised in Southern Africa, few studies have examined the custom in a contemporary context. Within many African communities, such as Nigerianethnic groups, the engagement is where the traditional practices are performed. Marriage to the Yoruba was not focused on love but rather on structure and order. What are the advantages of the practice of bridewealth. Chosen members of both families would be involved in bridewealth negotiations. App.#, no. It was a ‘quid pro quo’ exchange: the family of the groom was giving animals and money and receiving a new member of the community and the family of the bride was losing a member of their family but they were being compensated in terms of livestock and money. If the main reason for a couple to stay in such a relationship is the high amount of bridewealth, it would seem that bridewealth contributes indirectly to creating some unstable relationships. It was given to her because she would be the one being most affected by her daughter being taken away from her. One animal had to come from the father of the groom. The spokesperson of the family would receive bridewealth from the family of the groom and give it to the father of the bride (cf. [10] The married couple would have fairly minimal interaction with one another, to such an extent that the wife would often refer to her husband as the father of her sons name. Will be motivated solely by making the best financial arrangement they can. They said that even though bridewealth should be paid, the groom could take a long time to fulfill that obligation. Will ask less for a highly educated woman who can earn her own living. The British Journal of Sociology, 11(3), 197-210. doi:10.2307/586746. d. About marriage. Some Christian parents said that they would allow their daughter to marry a man even though he might not be able to pay bridewealth at that moment. [11] These irregular unions are performed when travelling back to their community was unrealistic or unachievable. Payment of bridewealth gave the young couple an official permission to live together and have children (Mbiti, 1975, p. 108). Disadvantages: a father could ask for too much, people having difficulty to raise it and the payment of bridewealth was actually seen as a sign of marriage. It gave him more freedom in asking open-ended questions which provided the respondents with the possibility of replying to them in their own words (Barker, 2002, pp. On the part of the groom (“or”) the following could participate in it: elders from the family, the father, uncles and friends. The same Kisii couple was interviewed concerning bridewealth. Women are not bought and sold, though bridewealth may come close to this as a result of the introduction of money, and the bridegroom being assessed according to his capacity to pay”. African weddings often consist of modern Islamic/Christian ceremonies whilst intertwining traditional African beliefs and practices. [9] When the parents believe the child is “ripe” for marriage, they will begin the process of seeking out a wife, often without the child knowing. Some … App.#, no. The continuity is to be seen in the fact that bridewealth is still practiced, in towns, and probably even more in rural areas. All these adjustments in the practice that take into consideration new circumstances, indicate to the researcher, that bridewealth will continue to exert influence. [5] It consists of an elaborate ceremony with heavy involvement from both families. Others would even leave the responsibility to pay it in the hands of the groom. In Achebe N. & Robertson C. At the same time, his father is to give one cow as a contribution to bridewealth. Kisembo supported that view by saying that “when bridewealth is demanded in cash, it becomes more difficult to collect” (1998, p. 210). There were some group interviews, though most were individual ones. Retrieved from, World Book, Inc.,. Solanke, S., Ayodabo, S. (2017). If young people cannot marry because of it, it seems reasonable to assume that some of them will engage in sexual activities that were traditionally considered a part of marital life. The ‘consent money’ would be given to the members of the family, especially the mother, who would get the biggest part of it, and after it, the young could live together. However, even if money is given, at least one cow is to be given. Bridewealth could be paid in installments. b. Hence, it could be argued that bridewealth is one of the factors contributing to the modern phenomenon of ‘come-and-stay’, influencing them to live in a relationship without an official marriage. App.#, no. The process of negotiating and paying bridewealth had a lot of impact on the community. App.#, no. If there is no bridewealth, they (the couple) can run away, stay together, have children but it is not recognized as a marriage. One of the crucial rites of passage is marriage. 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). App.#, no. If he is not able to afford it, he is to get at least a rope which will be used to take that animal to girl’s parents. It cannot disappear because it is a custom” (cf. Again, such an approach confirmed Mbiti’ statement that “African are notoriously religious” (1969, p. I); Bridewealth negotiations mostly involved men. Kithinji says that “The dowry issue is causing a lot of problems to young people. 2). 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. This includes marriages performed in front of a registrar, bypassing the religious and traditional aspects of marriage entirely and instead opting for a simplified process which still provides the legal benefits of marriage. App.#, no. The payment of bridewealth was considered in terms of an ongoing process, strengthening the relationships between the families and communities involved (Kam, 2004, p. 4, Puthenpurakal, 2005, p. 14). [9] This standpoint is particularly polarizing and has not been backed up by scientific data. Another respondent said that it was “ongoing, you keep contributing. A Luo lady who was married for 5 years was interviewed. Bridewealth was traditionally seen as a sign of one’s commitment. Bikorwomuhangi, E. (2005), “Traditional Marriage among the Luo of Kenya” In Katola, M(ed). 4). Bridewealth was a crucial element in marriage negotiations. Comparative anthropology has shown that bridewealth is more likely to be paid amongst populations whose main mode of food getting system is horticulture or pastoralism. One could rely on others to support him. Unless one married upon attaining the right age, one stood no chance of being counted as an adult. It was a traditional way of disciplining people to pay it. Being married and to have children affects not only one’s earthly destiny. 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. 5). 4 people were interviewed: One Kikuyu lady, one Luo lady. A 45 year old married Luo man was interviewed. Once bridewealth was paid, the marriage was sealed (Busieka, 2004, p. 4). The amount of bridewealth depended upon a number of factors such as: the general economic situation of the country, financial ability of the groom and his family, beauty, character and education of the bride. However, a failure to pay at least some significant and agreed upon part of it meant that no matter how long the couple stayed together, their union was not recognized as a marriage (Kam, 2004, p. 7). App.#, no. The World Book Encyclopedia states that 40% of Africans identify as Christian while 45% are Muslim. Once bridewealth was exchanged, marriage was official and was not be broken. Then, bridewealth was to be returned to the family of the groom. 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. He defined it as a ‘token given to the parents of the girl for migrating from her family to start another one’. 10). All three acknowledged that the payment of bridewealth was an obstacle in their marriage. Those who are younger, are not supposed to marry before him/her. Abwanda confirmed that point stressing that “according to Luo customary law, bridewealth is what really seals a marriage contract and without it there is no marriage in the Luo custom (2004, p. 9). It was confirming the importance of man as usually the most important person in dealing with important family matters; It was a practical way of appreciating the effort of the parents put into upbringing of their daughter. It helped to create friendship, to give thanks to the parents of the bride, a way of appreciation, but also an obligation. Marriage ceremonies throughout Africa vary greatly depending on the faith of the individuals. The rapid economic advancement of Africa is having an enormous impact on the youth and the attitudes they hold towards marriage. Mitchell, P. (1954). The interview was in Swahili. They are often encouraged against marrying for love or sexual attraction. Distribution of bridewealth among various members of the family of the bride pointed to its communitarian dimension. When the bridewealth was given, most of it would go to the father. App.#, no. Bridewealth stabilizes the marriage…” (1998, p. 90). Some authors noticed that there are changes taking place in the contemporary African society. 3). For example in Senegal there are almost 47% of the marriages where they feature more than one woman. [10] The study revealed that men were more likely to want a traditional marriage than women. Both groups saw bridewealth and polygyny as instruments of male domination and sym- In case of divorce, the bridewealth was to be returned, and often it was already used by the family of the wife – practice of bridewealth effectively encouraged the wife to stay in that relationship; A lot could be asked as bridewealth. One person said that “ni lazima kupeleka mahari kwenye nyumba ya wazazi, hapo wanapoishi” (It is necessary to send bridewealth to the place where the parents live) (cf. The distribution of bridewealth among various members of one’s family helped to strengthen relationships within that family and acquire wealth. Although bridewealth remains widely practised in Southern Africa, few studies have examined the custom in a contemporary context. Prof Achola mentioned other forms of paying bridewealth: grain, potatoes, labour, bunches of bananas, bundles of firewood, gourds of milk, planting implements, watertanks, and electrical implements. In particular, we have little evidence of its con-sequences for women in contemporary Africa. The various marriage ceremonies performed in Africa begin with the initial introduction between the groom and bride. 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. Another respondent said that “it was a token of thanksgiving. Those animals serve as a proof that the marriage was contracted and a means of increasing the wealth of the family of the bride. practice bridewealth). The respondent mentioned the following advantages of bridewealth: It helps the groom and the bride in validating their state of life; It is a source of wealth, especially if the parents of the bride are poor and the parents of the groom are rich; It promotes a sense of justice: if the father of the bride did not pay bridewealth himself, he cannot ask it from the groom of his daughter; It is an obstacle in the Christian wedding because the payment of bridewealth is a pre-condition to marry in the Church; Some people ask for a lot of money as a payment of bridewealth; It may create the problems for the family of the girl if she wants to terminate the marriage and return home and they have already spent the bridewealth. Are there any changes in the contemporary society that would affect the practice of bridewealth; What are the advantages of the practice of bridewealth; What are the disadvantages of the practice; Will the practice continue in the future. Bridewealth could contribute to some psychological problems. Bibliography of africa Count : 584 Bridewealth Project Africa Bibliography "L'option de la voie juridique". The acceptance of bridewealth by the parents meant that they were giving their permission to marry and that they were blessing them. Examples of traditional marriage customs within Africa can be seen when analyzing the Yoruba people of Nigeria. According to some respondents the minimal amount to be paid in the first installment that would give the groom the right to live with the bride was one cow and one goat (cf. If bridewealth was not paid, it would usually cause some problems; The recognition of the union depended upon groom’s capacity to pay it; It could result in treating the wife as one’s property – bridewealth paid was used as an explanation to mistreat the wife. 3, 4). It legitimizes the children of the union and confers legal rights over them upon the father. She claimed that it is the family of the bride that would go to the family of the groom to negotiate the amount of bridewealth. According to the researcher, the most appealing explanation used by those authors to support this view was the one rooted in the fact that in the traditional African society the purpose of human existence was understood in terms of fostering life. The respondents pointed out that the practice of bridewealth was undergoing some changes. It is a custom widely practiced across Africa. [10] This form of relationship emphasizes the importance of marriage towards social stability and minimizes the significance of the bond between the husband and wife. Also, the young may experience other problems related to living in such unions, e.g. The respondent stressed that if one did not pay bridewealth for his wife, he could not get it for his daughter. 4). His interest lies in investigating whether the contemporary understanding of bridewealth, with its various dimensions, among the Luo urban dwellers of Nairobi remains the same in comparison with its traditional meaning as found in literature. Kisembo, B. Magesa, L. and Shorter, A. The father of the groom is supposed to help his son in giving him at least one cow. The household was the hub of social life, and its layout symbolically expressed the relationships between men, women, cattle and the ancestors. The more educated a lady is the more expensive she is supposed to be at marriage” (2005, p. 54). App.#, no. Ogoma, D. (2014). It seems reasonable to see bridewealth as a traditional means of ensuring proper relationships between the couple and the rest of the community. Bridewealth was a tangible expression of one’s understanding of various expenses involved in the process of raising a girl. 7); Bridewealth was a means of binding individuals and communities/ethnic groups together. 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