4 Unique Guide to Traditional Marriage Rite of Kikuyu People in Kenya


The Kikuyu tribe, is the largest ethnic group in Kenya, making up about 22% of the country’s total population. Kikuyu culture is one of the more documented cultures, with lots of fact depicted in books and movies. Below, are 4 Guides to Kikuyu traditional wedding process. 


It should be noted that Kikuyu traditional wedding customs, could be slightly different for some families. 

1.First Visit

As with most African traditions, the Groom-to-be must come to make his intentions known to the bride’s family. There might be some hard questions asked by the father in law but that is to be expected. However, the groom should not show up empty handed. Bringing some food stuff for his new mother-in-law and a token for his father-in-law is a good way to be on his in laws’ good side.
After this visit the bride’s parents notify their trusted friends that a gentleman would like to marry their daughter. From these trusted friends a small group of men and women will be formed to negotiate on the details of the dowry with a similar group from the man’s family. 

2. Second Visit (family Introduction)

After the bride’s parents have met the man coming to take their daughter, it is time to meet the people who raised him. Yes, the groom’s parents and close friends will be expected to also go to the bride’s home so that the parents can meet and set a date for the Ruracio (Dowry or bride-price payment ceremony). Here, the bride’s parent or senior ones will also inform the groom’s older folks of their dowry requirements.
NOTE: It is imperative to follow the dowry requirement strictly; otherwise, it can lead to a breakdown in communication during the dowry negotiations.

3. Kikuyu Traditional Wedding Ceremony

On the arrival for Kikuyu traditional wedding, the groom’s family will find the gate closed. This is a sign to show that they must sing their way in. Then the bride -to -be and her female relatives welcome them in with songs and dances. After settling in and before any eating the bride to be is taken away by her fellow female in-laws and relatives, there she is given some advice meanwhile the groom start planting a branch of tree which symbolizes that the lady has been booked by the groom. 

The bride’s families (the hosts) are to introduced first. During thier introduction the family will introduce everyone except the bride; they finish the introduction by saying that they have several other daughters who have been sent to the stream to fetch water. Other introductions on the host’s side will be done and the master of ceremony will invite the spokesman from the groom’s side to introduce his guests.

The introductions again will begin with the family of the groom but not include him until the very end when he will be called up. He will be asked if he is sure that he directed people to the right home. He answers in the affirmative.

The groom will have to find his bride. She will be hidden in a group of women all wearing lessos which cover them up completely. This task could be made a little harder; the women will wear thick woolen socks. If he thinks he can cheat the system by recognizing her body marks!
He will be fined should he accidentally pick the wrong girl. Once he successfully finds the bride, then he will be asked to cut the shoulder of the goat (kiande) slaughtered in honor of the occasion. Next he will share some selected pieces of meat with other husbands. The ears of the goat are served to the bride and her young single friends as a reminder to the women to listen to their husbands.

In Kikuyu’s wedding Traditions the bride will have to ceremonially groom her husband by combing his hair, shining his shoes, cut his nails and then wrap him a towel at the front to act as a baby feeder. Then she will have to feed him some porridge. This is symbolic of how she will take care of him as his wife. 

4. Dowry / Bride-price payment ceremony

Later, some close family members of both parties will be shown a separate place where they will negotiate and give the dowry.  In any Kikuyu traditional wedding the Spokesman from the girl’s family will ask the visitors to introduce themselves and state their reason of coming.  The groom’s spokesman will answer by saying that they found a flower from this home and will want to pluck it.  

Once in the room the bride will be called and asked to give her blessings before her family could accept any gift coming the groom’s family.

The dowry could be:-
1. A fattened ram
2. He goats – this could be from 99 onwards depending on the negotiation made
3. 20 cows
4. Soda- for women
5. Lessos – for wemen
6. Towel
7. Beer   
8. Blanket
9. Bed and lots more          

Once the negotiations by the men are done, and the women’s requests are settled. There are wild jubilation and some beer is drunk. Food is served for everyone to eat. The people feast and get merry. At the end of the day the groom is free to take his bride’s home.

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