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What are the most shocking marriage rituals in Africa?

The African continent is so extensive and diverse and in one story it will be difficult to represent all wedding traditions of every tribe, because there are more than 5000 tribes in Africa, so in this article we have decided to show you the most shocking marriage rituals.

African wedding - this is more than a union of two persons, it is the union of two families and sometimes even two tribes.

  The main part of North Africa is under the influence of Muslim customs, and the southern half of the continent is full of different cultures , such as Christian, Judaic, Hindu and ancient African religions. The main concept of a family in the African countries is an association of a sort or the tribe.

  Stains in these lands practically don't happen as family problems are solved by all tribe, and the way out is, as a rule, found of any situations because family values act on the first place among others.

  African girls get married early: in 13-15 years. As the parents arranged marriages still quite common, and in some countries, polygamy is practiced, girls are often present at birth "gain" of her husband.

General elements of all African weddings: 

Firstly, the groom must pay the redemption for the bride. Depending on the tribe, as the redemption may serve some things - blankets, kitchen utensils, clothes, in certain cases even the automatic machine can serve; or a set of products - grain, vegetables, oil; but most often the redemption needs to be paid in the form of the cattle - it can be goats, cows, camels. . It is necessary to tell that in the African culture the redemption for the bride is not her purchase, it is expression of gratitude to the bride's family from the groom's family for the fact that they grew up such girl and agreed to give it in the wife to their son. Also, paying the redemption, the groom shows the capability to care for future wife.

  In traditional culture of Ghana the first step on the way to marriage is called "knock on the door" when relatives of the groom come to ask in marriage.

  1.   Benin. When children reach the age suitable for marriage, the parents agree on the engagement - a holiday, which is the bride with gifts for the bride's family: palm wine, coconuts and nuts Cola, money for clothes or tissue.
  2. Angola. The groom, showing to the bride's parents the readiness to marry and desire to be accepted in a family, helps the father-in-law in the field, and to the mother-in-law – to work on the house.
  3. Morocco. In the pre-wedding bachelorette party bridesmaids and relatives of the bride have a party in the traditional cafeteria, where the bride takes the traditional milk bath and washed her black soap in order to symbolically "clean."
  4. Republic of South Africa, the Zulus. On the day of the ceremony, the bride puts on white and red beads, and then they tie the bags with pebbles to ankles (to have more rhythmic movements while dancing). One of the elements of the wedding costume also is a small dagger, which is a symbol of virginity. In the tribe of Zulu, the wedding usually starts with ritual spilling of beer to the land, according to the beliefs of the Zulus this ritual attaches to the wedding celebration all the dead ancestors.  Then they sacrifice a cow or goat and then begin the celebration, they beat drums and Tom-Tom, all of them are dancing. And Zulu wedding sometimes doesn't go without fights between certain warring members of the families on both sides of the married couple.
  5. The most famous and outstanding representatives of Africa are the Maasai which live in Northern Kenya and Tanzania. Wedding ritual of the Maasai is the most lengthy and complicated, but the outfit of the bride is white and multi-component.
  6. Wedding in Namibia

Namibia - one of the numerous African states located in a southwest part of the continent.

In this country the most valuable invitation card on a wedding is the standard European card with the image of wedding symbols.  As not everyone newlyweds are able to afford similar beauty, local handicraftsmen produce invitation in the handicraft way, making colourful pictures of dry leaves and color paper.

  The wedding is celebrated two days, and the marriage is registered at the local town hall.

  The traditional headdress of the bride carrying the name "ekor" made of goat skin is of special interest. Skin is in a special way rubbed with composition of red ochre, pitch and fat before acquisition of a brown shade.

  After the wedding newlyweds can't be shown on people for the first few days. They spend time in the house, without going outside and eating the gifts brought to them by guests on the second wedding day.

The wedding is a ritual of connection, therefore, it is characterized by actions which are symbolizing the Union. In Africa, there is a symbolic gesture, when the couple pours the multi-colored sand into a glass container.

It is obligatory the money dance during the ceremony of wedding.

During the dance, guests showered the young couple with coins. Usually, the money takes the couple but in some countries they leave their money to the bride's mother.

There is a quite funny African wedding tradition of jumping through the broom, which symbolizes the rapid transition of the pair into a new life.

Most Africans live in complete harmony with nature and therefore, for their important rituals that they can understand, they usually use colors of “earth”  – green, red, orange, chocolate, purple and yellow.

  • Egypt. The ancient Egyptian ceremony was distinguished by its simplicity and austerity:  the ritual consisted of a procession which was headed by the bride, who marched into her new home, her husband's home. In Angola, the bride was carried in her husband's home on the back.

 After the ceremony they usually have a festive banquet, where there is also a wedding cake. This wedding cake is, of course, is not a national food, but it is made of those things that we usually associate with Africa: masks, feathers, pottery and animal skins.

  • Angola. After the ceremony, the groom isn't allowed to see his mother-in-law until the appearance of the firstborn.

  • Also there is a tradition to pay money for future bride.

Sometimes it is not difficult to pay the ransom, but sometimes to pay this, the groom should  work a half of lifetime. It should be noted that in the African culture, the bride is treated not as her purchase, but it is thankfulness to her parents that raised such a good girl, and it is also a proof of the ability of the groom to provide for his future family.

By the way, in some African tribes (and even in tribes which are converted to Christianity) the polygamy is still widespread, but to have a lot of brides can only those who is able to mantain all of them.

  • The groom of Samburu tribe (Kenya) must go to the bride's house with a predetermined number of cows, which signifies a ransom for the bride's father. After that, the bride passes the process of female circumcision, then her father gives her the sandals from cow skin, and he also gives sandals for her future husband, but they aren't from the skin of the cow, they are from the lion skin, and it represent a symbol of bravery, courage and valor.

 Then the couple goes through the line of relatives of the bride, they usually spit on them.

  • In the Yoruba tribe (Nigeria) the bride have to try pepper, honey and dried fish. These dishes symbolize the bitterness, the happiness and fertility of family life. The family of the groom needs to be dressed in one color and the bride in the other, it symbolizes the Union of two people, and two families.

The wedding outfits in Africa

 In Africa the wedding clothes are characterized first of all by abundance of jewelry and diversity of paints and ornaments. In some areas of Africa the top part of a suit is even optional to traditional clothes of the bride, but her breast is decorated by several rows of a multi-colored beads

  • In Africa, the great importance is attached to materials. Traditional bride's attire may consist of bright colored skirts "bubah" and jacket. Around the head of the bride there is the cloth like a turban, does braids or cornrows, which symbolizes modesty and restraint. The groom wears a traditional jacket, a tunic and headdress.

  • The tribes of the Berbers in Morocco also have their wedding outfits.

The bride wears a colorful wool blankets. Unmarried girls wear round bonnets, which are decorated in silver coins, and then wear silver bells on their necks. On their cheeks there is a golden honey, mixed with ochre, their eyebrows are drawn in black, and the eyelids are green. During the Moroccan wedding, the bride must change at least seven different outfits. Each dress weighs a few pounds and to change it there is usually a friend, who is ready to help her.

  • In Ghana, the bride's wedding dress is called "kente". This clothing is made of braided threads, which reflects their social status and religious or political beliefs. Red, gold and green in the attire of the bride are the traditional colors of freedom.

  • The brides in Kenya paint the hands and feet in ritual patterns of black and red colour. These patterns persist for one year and they are a symbol of the new status of woman. According to the Kenyan tradition, after the wedding, the man changes his outfit and follows female outfit, which he must wear for a month. It is believed that he would be able to feel the gravity of the household responsibilities and chores and then to be tolerant to his wife in the future.

There is a traditional item of wedding costume. The African girls also include in their outfit the "gele" ( it is similar with a turban), free dress "bou-bou" or a skirt that is wrapped around the body, shawl or special mantle, and a short blouse, which is made of the same material.

The groom's wedding dress consists of trousers "sokoto", shirt "bubba", a long jacket-sweater, and a round hat.

Often every african couple can wear a traditional white dress and black tuxedo, that is more usual for western countries. Often for costumes of the bride and groom select the purple and gold colors, which are the traditional colors of the African kings.

Food on weddings

  In some tribes of the Central Nigeria completeness is very much appreciated. It is considered that it is a guarantee of successful defect. Girls are settled in a separate lodge that they grew fat where only their mothers can come. They bring to daughters a large number of meals. The faster she grows stout, the less she is in the hut.

  According to Moroccan traditions, the bride before she moves to the groom house, is serves the dishes y mother. Her mother wants the happy family life for her daughter.  The groom at this time serves different dishes for his guests, but the main dish is “bastelle” – it is puff cake with roasted pigeons and almonds, and also he serves the famous sweet dessert with almonds.

That were the most unique and interesting wedding rituals in Africa.

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