4 great African Traditional wedding snapshots. Series 1

Traditional weddings in Africa are well revered across the continent.  It is a part of the African culture that holds a place dear to the hearts of many because of its symbolic representation of the union of 2 families, as a result there is very much value placed in these traditional ceremonies. 

Different ethnic groups across Africa have different traditional values which are peculiar to them.

These traditional weddings and accompanying practices are being passed down from  generation to generation. It is not uncommon for a couple to have either a Church or Mosque wedding – but in most cases there always is a longing for the traditional ceremonies to be performed. 

We have covered 4 traditional weddings from across Africa in this first series. 

1. Akan Traditional Wedding (Ghana / Ivory Coast)

The Akan’s are an ethnic group living in the southern regions of Ghana and Ivory Coast in West Africa with a well crafted age long traditional wedding custom.

The bridegroom meets secretly with the lady in what is termed “kasasie.” The bridegroom will then take along his family members and friends to the bride’s family where they make their intentions known. This is known as the ‘abowmu bodze’ or ‘opon-akyi bo’ or knocking ceremony.

With the bride’s parents consent, the father of the bridegroom pays the expenses of the marriage. However, this has evolved somewhat, and in some instances, it is the “groom to be” who pays the expenses of the marriage.

2. Zulu Traditional Wedding (South Africa)

The Zulu traditional wedding starts with the ‘bride to be’ informing her father of her intentions to get married. The father then organises a ceremony to inform the public of his daughter’s availability.

After a suitor is found, the traditional “lobala” is done which is an avenue for both families to get to meet each other and exchange gifts.

Then the “umabo” which serves as the main traditional wedding ceremony takes place.

3. Yoruba Traditional Wedding (Nigeria)

The Yorubas are an ethnic group from the South West of Nigeria.

The Yoruba traditional wedding ceremony is a protracted affair. It begins with the bride’s family seated and waiting for the groom’s family to arrive. Both the groom and bride are absent at this point.

Once the groom’s family arrive, the Alaga (master of ceremony) welcomes them at the gate in the company of the the housewives of the bride’s side of the family.

The Alaga then asks the groom’s family to state their reasons for coming.  The Alaga then introduces them to the bride’s family before prayers are said. 

After the introduction, the groom’s family show deference to the family of the bride.

The two families then sit at opposite sides of the room, while the Alaga is in between them.

Once seated, the Alaga Iduro presents the proposal letter to the Alaga Ijoko on behalf of the groom’s family.  An acceptance letter is then presented to the groom’s family before some prayers are said.

4. Kikuyu Traditional Wedding (Kenya)

The Kikuyu are a Bantu ethnic group who mostly reside in Central Kenya.

The traditional Kikuyu wedding is called the “ngurario”.

On the wedding day the groom, his parents and other people accompanying arrive at the bride’s home. But they are not allowed to enter the house.

A tradition called “kuhura hoti” is performed. The women from the groom’s procession start to sing. They carry various gifts. The women inside the house also sing. After some time the door is finally opened. .

When the bridegroom is allowed into the brides home, he then has to recognize his bride among the group of woman dressed in the same clothes. This tradition is known as “gucagura muka wake”.

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