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    Rehema Fred

      As beautiful as the African cultures, there are some bizarre practices and indulgences especially in marriages that some people would rather find strange and sometimes unusual for a marriage procession.


      Among these practices of marriage that some African cultures celebrate marriages in the most strangest and bizarre ways are the people of Nuer in Southern Sudan. They are said to practice a marriage tradition in which the bride is to be impregnated by the groom at his fulfillment of the payment of 40 cattle to the bride’s family. The bride on her part as a bargain must give birth to two children before marriage is finalized. And in a situation the bride is unable to conceive and birth the two children; the groom is not obligated to go ahead with the marriage and may demand the refund of the cattle he paid as dowry and take custody of the only child. When she eventually births her third child, the marriage is termed consummated and officially finalized.


      There is also an ancient marriage ritual called the fattening room that is practiced by the Efiks and Ibibios in Calabar, Rivers State Nigeria. It is believed according to the practice that robust in size is evidence of wealth, fertility, and prosperity. It is also believed that brides look more beautiful and motherly when they are robust and fat. Therefore, young women that have attained puberty are confined to a room to prepare them for womanhood.


      The young women are not allowed to be visited by family and friends when they are admitted into the fattening room. The elderly women of the clan administer advises and lectures to the young women during the period they remain in the confines of the fattening room.


      They also receive social and marital advice to help them take care of their future families and their husbands. What they are mainly fed during this period to grow their robustness is usually foods with high content of carbohydrates.


      At an interval close to the end of the fattening period, their mothers are said to circumcise them as it is believed that this keeps them faithful in marriage.


      It is after this rite that a proper ceremony is held and the girls show off to family and friends and reintegrated into the community. The girl’s being able to grow fat during this period was believed to be a confirmation of their sexual purity and virginity.


      There is also the kidnapping of the bride practiced by the Frafra tribe in Ghana.


      How it is done, the suitor’s family kidnaps the bride to be held hostage in their home and enforced so much security she doesn’t have a chance to escape. To calm the lady’s people down from worrying about their daughter’s whereabouts, the suitor’s family pays the lady’s family a visit usually carrying along gifts ranging from guinea fowl, kola nuts, and most times tobacco.


      When the family of the bride accepts the proposal from the suitor’s family, a mini ceremony is held and after then, the groom’s family proceeds to pay the dowry for the bride-to-be. The dowry usually consists of kola nuts, some amount of money, guinea fowl, and four cattle.


      In the situation where the bride’s family rejects the first proposal, the suitor’s family repeats the process severally to prove to the bride-to-be’s family their seriousness about the marriage union.


      There is also a ritual in the marriages of the Maasai tribe in Kenya. Their practice is usually arranged marriages where the elders arrange marriages without the consent of the mother of the wife-to-be. How mothers decode this secret is when they receive a gift of a bull. Then they already begin having an idea that their daughter is to be given out in marriage. During the marriage ceremony, the father of the bride spits on her head and breast which connotes his blessings as she transits to another stage in her life. During the marriage procession, the groom’s family severally insults the bride to her face, which is believed to be a destroyer of all bad luck and encounters in the union to be consummated.


      The Zulu tribe of South Africa practices a trade by barter in their marriage rites. The labola which is loosely translated as the bride prize is paid to the bride’s family, which is a show of gratitude to the bride’s family for an excellent upbringing of their daughter to the stage of giving her out in marriage.


      The bride then buys gifts for members of the groom’s family from the labola money paid by the groom’s family.

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