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Wedding Traditions In Africa

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By Author: Shabu Miah
Total Articles: 22
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Africa is a huge continent and African wedding ceremonies can vary enormously from country to country. Many today are veering toward what is known as the African White Western Wedding which is more in keeping with traditional British Christian weddings in the UK. However, African weddings can involve a considerable amount of decoration, and for this you need specialist African wedding decorators in London.
Some of the companies that undertake this kind of work describe themselves as “event decorators” and really do very little else other than the décor for weddings, and for other events. Asian weddings are also a speciality because in the Asian tradition the families of the bride and groom will often spare no expense in having the wedding venue decorated, and there are also further ceremonies such as the mendhi for the bride which can require extensive decoration.
In many parts of Africa a traditional marriage requires the payment of what is known as a “bride price” by the groom to the bride’s family. In sub-Saharan Africa the bride price must be paid before the couple can have permission to marry, whether in church or in a civil ceremony. If this is not paid, the marriage is not considered valid by the family of the bride.
Bride price can vary enormously. It can be simply a token, or it can be land or real estate, and everything in between. Bride price often consists of cattle or goats and can be one animal or many. Cattle and goats often form part of traditional ceremonies which take place after the actual wedding ceremony itself.
The bride price is often not paid all at once. The groom and his family can instigate a verbal contract with the family of the bride to pay the bride price over a period. This allows a groom to marry and work to pay off the bride price over an agreed period of time while the couple raise a family. It also allows a groom to use part of the bride price received by his own family when his sisters marry and his family receives bride price in turn. However, if the groom dies or becomes incapacitated and cannot work, his family must pay off the debt, which is considered to be a debt of honour.
In some parts of Africa a bride is selected by the groom’s parents at a very young age – maybe five or six – and the marriage is simply arranged as is the custom in some Islamic marriages. In order to provide a wife for their son the parents will pay the bride’s family in instalments over many years. It can also happen that the prospective bride’s family can put pressure on the family of the groom to increase payments or make them continue for longer. In addition, there can be problems when a young man and his family don’t have the means to pay. In some areas, young men risk their lives to pay bride price by stealing cattle and goats.
In sub-Saharan Africa families meet to discuss and negotiate the bride price, and these meetings are traditional customs that many Africans consider have a vital purpose in society generally because they provide both families with opportunities to get to know each other long before any wedding takes place.
Sometimes bride price can be exceptionally high according to the “value” of the bride. So for instance if she is well educated and has degrees her value will be higher than a girl who is not. In Uganda this can be taken to what some might consider as extremes, with a groom having to provide his bride with huge amounts of cattle, a car, a house, and more.
Quite how this affects marriage in the diaspora in the UK is not clear. Certainly, it would seem that not much takes place in the way of gifts of cattle, but other forms of payment may take place in some families.
What is certain is that the marriage ceremony itself is a fairly lavish affair and requires the services of African wedding decorators in London in order to ensure that this very special day in the life of the bride and groom is one that will be remembered for years to come by both of the families and the wedding guests.
Resource Box: Kenza Creations is a specialist company for African wedding decorators in London. They are professional event decorators in London and provides stunning décor.

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