Razor Ndlovu, a lecturer at the University of Science and Technology, said traditional weddings unified rural communities and were a source of inspiration to young girls and boys.
“Traditional weddings played a very important part in uniting the people. I remember as young boys we used to walk a distance of more than 20 kilometres to go to the next village to offer moral and material support to any groom who hailed from our village during weddings. During the wedding day, the two families would outdo each other in singing traditional songs as well as showering the newly- weds with various gifts,” said Ndlovu.
He bemoaned the commercialisation of today’s weddings, saying “Some people just organise weddings to raise funds through gifts. Long back gifts did not matter most. What mattered were the celebrations. People would donate very simple but significant gifts like reed mats, beads, livestock and other traditional utensils like pots. But these days the newly–weds sometimes concur with their parents to pledge expensive gifts just to make an impression on other guests,” said Ndlovu.
In Ndebele culture, Ndlovu said it was a marvel during traditional weddings to see a bride wearing “idzila” copper and brass rings worn by the bride around her arms, legs and neck and “Isigolwani”, neck hoops made of grass and covered in beads.
”The husband provided these rings to the bride to show a sign of wealth. The Isigolwani is also worn by the newly-wed woman,” he said. “But gone are the days when the vows “till death do us part” were made as a genuine declaration of life-long love.
“Today the lady stays till the money runs out while the gentleman stays till he grows bored with her. Today’s weddings cannot last long because of the money element.”
Samuel Moyo, 79, a retired headmaster, wed his wife the traditional way in 1968. “The traditional wedding process starts with the idombo (messenger) who conveys the intention to marry to the bride’s family. In our culture, permission for a wedding is granted by the bride’s family only after the groom has paid the bride price or dowry, which includes cattle and other things like blankets, shoes, hats and suits for the bride’s parents ,” explained Moyo.
“When the marriage had been sealed or legitimized in this way, the next thing expected from the new couple was a wedding. During our days the weddings were celebrated with the slaughtering of cattle, traditional dancing and singing as well as beer drinking. I remember very well when I married my wife, I hosted two wedding receptions, one at my in laws’ homestead and the other one at my parents’ homestead in Lower Gweru,” he said.
“The real excitement of a traditional weddings starts after the official church proceedings. When the bridal party gets back home from church, they are welcomed by those who did not have the opportunity to go to the church. The people will be singing the traditional song tauya naye muroora (we have brought the bride). In response to the song, the bridal team marches around the decorated stage.
“After the marches, which are normally punctuated with ululations and whistling, the bride and her team enter their respective rooms for lunch while the groom and some of his family members go to their own room for lunch. At this point in time the groom is not yet officially allowed to have lunch with his bride, as there are some traditional rituals that have to take place before they can be together.”
Mrs Moyo added: “All this is meant to show the young man who is getting into the stage of fatherhood that it is not easy to manage a family. Thus he is not given a wife on a silver platter just like that – he is not allowed to have lunch with the bride even after exchanging vows.”
She went on to explain that the climax of the traditional wedding was the gift-giving and cake-cutting session. During this time, the bride and the bridegroom’s family sing songs in competition with each other.
“These singing competitions (makwaya) were done by both families in order to entertain the invited guests and also as a way of showing off talent especially among the youths,” she said.
After lunch the groom comes from his home to meet his bride. The bride can only come out of the room after being given some presents by the groom’s family.Post published in: Analysis