What is the Traditional Concept of Marriage in Africa

Marriage in Africa is not the same as it is in the modern world. Let us help you solve the mystery of what is the traditional concept of marriage in Africa? A lot of marital issues have arisen due to many Africans’ belief that the Western values about the concept of marriage is universal, that is, it is what is practiced everywhere in the world.

But the answer to that is always “No”.

  • Meaning of Marriage

Marriage is a recognized union of a man and a woman as husband and wife, a union that is intended to last their joint lives.

Marriage is an important step in the life of every human on earth. Different cultures have different rituals and beliefs about marriage. Love, economic status, religious beliefs, and social acceptance are just a few reasons individuals marry across differing cultures.

  • The African Traditional Understanding of Marriage

Since there are the various sides to the concept  of marriage in Africa , it may be hard and somewhat confusing to decide what the concept may particularly be. The exception is if you understand your ethnic origin. Below is the response to the question, what is the traditional concept of marriage in Africa?

This is because many African communities believe marriage is primarily about procreation and providing for children as this is seen as the foundation of society. They are often encouraged against marrying for love or sexual attraction.

It is common practice in Africa to combine practices of major religions with local religious traditions. This is evident in marriage ceremonies where both Islamic and Christian marriages will also follow traditional practices adopted from tribal communities or smaller religions. The wedding is an exceptionally respected tradition within Africa due to their deeply rooted appreciation for the notion of family.

Due to the sheer size and diversity of Africa, wedding customs vary greatly not just between countries but between local communities. There is a growing trend among African communities where wedding ceremonies and marriage processes are blending traditional customs with modern practices.

This is evident throughout many locations within Africa, where Catholic and Islamic followers will participate in traditional customs as well as ones typical to their religion. The diversity of traditional beliefs throughout the country leads to enormous diversity among African communities. Despite this, there are also many similarities between African weddings and the customs that surround them.

Read Also: Your Marriage and Your Ancestry

  • Yoruba

Another angle to this perspective is that the various marriage ceremonies performed in Africa begin with the initial introduction between the groom and bride. The Yoruba call this ‘Mo mi i mo e’ Introduction while the Igbo call it ‘Ikutu aka n’ulo’ (Knock on the door).The family is typically involved within this process. Within many African communities, such as Nigerian ethnic groups, the engagement is where the traditional practices are performed.

It consists of an elaborate ceremony with heavy involvement from both families. The families dress in traditional and often colourful attire. It is common for the families to choose a colour to abide to in their dress code. The ceremony is typically held at the Bride’s house. It is here that payment from the groom’s family to the bride’s is made and wedding rings are exchanged.

Traditional customs relevant to the specific community are performed during this engagement ceremony, while the more modern marital customs will be performed at the religious wedding ceremony. The wedding will consist of more modern marital customs relevant to the religion of the participants families. Examples of this include the exchange of marital vows and modern wedding attire being worn by the bride and groom.

  • Kenya

Kenyan culture is very diverse and full of tradition based on social norms that have been around for generations. Social life is patterned around a strong clan and extended family ties. This plays a vital role in the marriage process. Kenyans attempt to maximize rewards and minimize costs.

This is done by comparing what one gives up compared to what they receive in marriage. A husband may receive social status, sexual enhancement, increased labor, and the knowledge that his blood-line will continue, while giving up some sort of economic compensation to the family of the wife. The wife may receive resources, adult status as a wife, and protection in return for her labor and obedience to her husband.

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