April 5th, 2018
Today's blog is about a young couple getting married August 25th. The process here for engagement and marriage includes quite a lot of discussion with the bride's parents and family. They believe in "bride price" or dowry. The groom pays for everything, including the wedding, the reception and negotiating the bride price with the parents. I asked the couple if I could write about each step involved in all of this and this is what has happened so far.
This is what Otieno wrote when he visited Mary's parents to discuss the marriage. On February 17, 2018, the journey to Mary's and her parent's home, at 2:00 p.m.started. Myself and 10 friends arrived at their home at 2:45 but the gate into their home was locked. I had to pay 1000 ksh ($10.00) before they allowed us to enter. We were welcomed by their pastor who opened with the word of prayer and then food was brought. I had previously given 3000 ksh for this dinner. The family asked me what brought us here. They had someone who spoke on their behalf who told us that Mary was in Mombasa and she was supposed to have cooked the meal but they needed money to bring her there. I gave them 7000 ksh and they suggested I add 3000 more. (a total of $100) I had a spokesman ;who was of the same tribe as Mary, Kikuyu, speaking on my behalf. At that point, 8 ladies came out, completely covered so I could not tell who they were. They told me choose one, If I didn't choose the right one, I had to pay an additional 2000 ksh. I picked the right one, Mary, on the first try. (the deception was part of the proposal ritual) After that, they brought out 2 crates of soda, which I had bought. They asked me for a towel and bottle opener, which I did not have. They told me to give them 500 ksh. Mary and I exchanged sodas as a sign of love. The ceremony was over, but they asked me to take 2 cows, in the form of money, which is 30,000 ksh. to them on June 16th.
This is just the beginning of the process. I wanted to write about it to explain how marriages start here. Unfortunately, this kind of negotiation puts a burden of debt on the young couple. So, many of the grooms who are not able to come up with this money, run away with the bride, have children and never marry. Two years ago we had a wedding for 14 couples. All had run off, lived together and had kids. The bride price was just too high. I won't be here in June when the dowry is taken to the parents but Otieno promised to write it all down for me. I will write about it when we return in August. And when the wedding takes place, I can explain about the customs involved in the actual ceremony. It is a hoot! Kwaheri from Kitale, Mama Lani