MARITAL RITES IN AFRICA || Soyoye Testimony Faith
The origin of marriage in Africa is as old as the folklores told at the village squares to young offsprings.” —— Soyoye Testimony.
In Africa, marriage is regarded as a pivotal part of our culture, and just like every other component part of this culture, there are rules, traditions, and rites to follow. Though every marriage culture, rites and processions differ amongst the diverse ethnic societies, marriage is often regarded as a union that enhances positive human interactions.
An attempt to define marriage would prove difficult as there are several reasons why two individuals come together to share companionship. However, if viewed in the African way, marriage can be said to be a socially accepted union between two adults who have mutual agreements to be a couple. In most African settings, the social acceptance starts with the parents of both individuals especially in the Yoruba culture.
Sometimes we ask question; where did the first marriage in Africa take place? Who were the couples and how did the marriage rites go? These questions might be difficult to answer as we have not been able to establish definite answers to this. It is however important to note that the origin of marriage in Africa is as old as the folklores told at village squares to the young offspring.
Close your eyes and imagine; a couple holding each other’s hand and making their plans on how they would go meet their parents to profess their intentions to them. For this to happen there are several rites to follow.
Let us consider the Yoruba culture. The lady takes her fiancé to go meet her parents, both of whom shall drill the young man until they have seen him beyond the surface. If he passes this stage, as it were then, the young man would be required to go and inform his parents of his plans. After thus comes the “know me and let me know you stage” which in Yoruba is called “mọ mí n mọ é.” This is the stage where both the bride’s and the groom’s family meet and they discuss several topics and get to know each other’s background.
“One can have a bad partner but a wicked in-law one must run away from.” ——Yoruba Adage.
What comes next after the introduction stage, of course, is the engagement ceremony otherwise known as the traditional marriage. Both parents of the bride and the groom picks a dress code or color code and the couples are dressed in beautiful and lovely traditional attires. In the olden days, the aso-oke was widely used, some still does, but not in all marriages now. The venue which is most times the bride’s house is well decorated to suit the occasion. Families, friends, and well wishers are invited to grace the occasion.
The procession begins with several activities. The groom family tells the bride’s family how they have found a flower which is the bride in their house and they have come to pluck her. The groom is also asked to choose his wife amongst veiled ladies presented, which most times, the bride is not’t always present. The new bride is brought in with singing, dancing and having her face covered. There is the prayer session — prayers for the bride, for fertility and for both the couples — the bride cries, and other mushy emotional moments.
After that moment is the payment of dowry and presentation of required gifts by the groom’s family. Everything is done mostly within a day, some influential and big traditional marriages do span for a couple of days, and depending on the traditions to be fulfilled. Marital rites in Africa is an upheld tradition that must be followed duly. Therefore, if you wish to marry an African, or you’re already planning to, I better advise you to actively count your cost.
Soyoye Testimony is a reader, writer, poet and a budding linguist. She has a flare for African literature and believes in preserving and promoting the African heritage.
She volunteers at TVO TRIBE and interns at Campus Community Network. She believes in being hardworking, disciplined and goal oriented. She is on Instagram @tessiemoney