Rashaida people come from the Banu Abs, that is Arabs, and are commonly confused with Adeni Arabs. They are an ethnic group living on the coastal plain from Massawa in Eritrea to the border with eastern Sudan. They have a population of 187,500 people in Eritrea and 68,000 in Sudan and they are mainly nomadic pastoralists. The Rashaida are so deeply rooted in their traditional attire, culture, customs, camel breeds, and practice of Sunni Islam. They are the smallest ethnic group present in Eritrea, as they have their origin in the northern region of the Hejaz and they sometimes live all along the Sinai in places as far north as Egypt.
Every tribe and culture in Africa has its distinct customary rites relating to marriage traditions. In the Rashaida tribe, there is a restriction on Rashaidi men and women’s interaction in their everyday life. Marriages are most times arranged by the families. In this stead, if the groom accepts the marriage, a dowry of cash and camels must be paid to the family of the bride.
The man is allowed to be polygamous but the woman can only take one husband.
The traditional wedding in the Rashaida tribe is a seven-day event that involves a number of festivities like drumming, dancing, and camel racing. During daylight, the bride is not allowed to see anyone during the first six days of the event, except for her mother, sisters, and her father’s other wives if there be any. She is covered in elaborate veils and wedding masks. This is one important custom for the Rashaida people. She expected to wear the ‘mangheb’ which is the young girl’s veil, still on the first six days, and on the seventh day, she wears a specific ‘burqa’ given to her by her mother. she is then decorated in metallic thread and pendants that were gifted to her from her husband to be. She wears the ‘burqa’ for a year after the wedding.
On the seventh night, when she is already married to her husband, she unveils herself outside the presence of her family, where he sees her unconcealed for the first time. The groom is gifted by his parents a ceremonial sword which he uses during the festive dances. It is an important ceremony during the wedding. During the wedding, the men usually have on an attire of cotton tunic with an embroidered waistcoat and a turban.
The Rashaida people usually do not marry outside of their group, you can rarely see interracial marriages. This is because they try to prevent their offspring from being mixed with other races. Although you see them mixing with the highlanders. They try to maintain some level of ethnic purity in their community.
The ideology is that a male who is “Red” can marry a “Black” Rashaidi, and their offspring will be considered “Red”, but a “Black” male can not marry a “Red” Rashaidi. There are two different races in the Rashaida tribe, there are those with lighter skin that are referred to as “Red” and those regarded as freed slaves raised by the Rashaida, referred to as the “Black”.
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