For Africa, the future has always been about marriage
For Africa, the future has always been about marriage. Marriage is one of the most fascinating thing that really make Africans stand out from the rest of the crowd. In Africa, our great grandparents always knew that our future strongly hinged strongly on the next generation to be born. So in a bid to ensure that our future was certain, parents did everything they could possibly do to have their children married to the best spouse. For over centuries our lives right from birth were carefully modelled for marriage life because it’s such a point of mockery and scorn to you as a person and your family as well if you reach a marrying age but without having the required skills and knowledge to make a marriage work. In a 7 part series, I am going to take you on Uganda cultural safari journey looking at various ways of marriage in the different tribes of Uganda. Let’s kick start this series about marriage by looking at marriage among the Banyankole people.
A brief history of the Ankole people
The Banyankole are people who belong to the Ankole tribe which falls under the Bantu ethnic group. The Banyankole are further subdivided into the Bahima- these are cattle keepers and the Bairu –these are agriculturalists. Long ago, both the Bahima and the Bairu belonged to a kingdom of Ankole whose king was referred to as the Omugabe but in 1966 when the then president of Uganda Milton Obote abolished all cultural institutions in Uganda, the Ankole kingdom also suffered the same fate and until now it hasn’t been restored even though most of the other traditional institutions have been restored. As of the last census in Uganda of 2014, the Banyankole people are the 2nd largest group of people with an estimated population of 3.216 million people of which 2.6 million lived in the Ankole kingdom region. The Banyankole people are found in the western districts of Mbarara, Ntungamo, Ibanda, Kiruhura and Insingiro about 250km away from the capital city.
The road to marriage
Marriage was and is still up to now seen as an important institution among these people and when a child is born, the parents will begin a mammoth tusk of having this child prepared for marriage right for a kinder age because it is a point of pride to the parents if their kids get married and have a successful marriage story. All children had to be appropriately brought up in preparation for this important stage of life. The boys had to be well-groomed by their fathers and uncles on issues like how to build and rule a family, herding cattle, defending the homestead and providing for the family. For the girls, they had to be groomed by their mothers but mostly their aunties who had to pass on all the techniques that a woman was supposed to have in order to manage their marital homes. The aunt had to ensure that the girl maintained her virginity until marriage and was aware of how to satisfy her husband’s to be sexual desires.
Marriage among the Banyankole isn’t a 1 or 2 part event but rather a long process which involves quite a number of rituals and ceremonies before a man and a woman are really pronounced husband and wife. Although there was no courtship between a girl and a boy among the Banyankole, it was the father’s role to look for a bride for his son. When the father found a suitable partner for his son, he used a go through a person called Katerarume, Katerarume is a person who is well known by both the family of groom and bride to be. It was the Katerarume by the groom’s family to advance their wishes to the family of the potential bride to be and when the girl’s family accepted the proposal, the bridal price had to be agreed on by both families.
The art of bargaining for bride price
After the Katerarume successfully convincing the bride’s family of their interesting in having her hand in marriage, a day is set where a few close relatives of the groom’s family visit the bride’s family and have a candid discussion about the bride price that is to be paid for the girl. Since these people are cattle keepers and are famous for their long-horned cattle, bride price is usually determined in terms of heads of cattle. Usually bride price ranges anywhere between 5-15 cows depending on the level of wealth of both the bride and groom’s families. After a really heated haggling, the families settle on an amicable number of cattle to be paid by the groom’s family.
Fetching the bride price.
The bride’s family organize a group of elders and visit the groom’s family. This, therefore, requires the groom’s family to organize a feast for the entourage of in-laws that are visiting. After exchanging all pleasantries and having a meal. The in-laws have to go the groom’s heard of cattle and pick out some of the best cattle from the groom’s kraal to be exchanged for the bride as agreed during the processing of determining the bride price. The groom’s family has to transfer the cattle that were specifically picked out by the bride’s family and in case you decide to take to the cows which they didn’t pick this can cause the girl’s family to reject the cow’s brought by the groom’s family and sometimes call of the entire wedding since this was viewed as a sign of disrespect to them.
“Kuhingira” or the “give away ceremony” is the wedding ceremony among the Banyankole, this ceremony is organized at the grounds of the bride’s home and the entire community is invited to attend the girl’s send-off and a great feast is organized to send off the bride. During the Kuhingira ceremony, the girl is veiled and she never dears to shows her face to the public although this ritual is increasing fading as the younger people are embracing “modernity”. The newly wedded couple (culturally wedded) is given a lot of gifts by various relatives of the bride’s as a way of ensuring that their daughter gets comfortable in her new marital home. In modern times, after the Kuhingira, the day after is a church wedding called “okugeitwa” and it is organized by the groom’s family. The wedding sees the bride who is still having her veiled and groom go to church to be officially wedded in the eyes of God as well. From the church, another feast is organized by the groom’s family at his home and this feast is expected to be bigger and better than the Kuhingira feast that was organized by the bride’s family because the groom has to show off his potential as an able provider to the bride. Long ago, on the night after the wedding the bride met his husband for the first time to consummate their love and usually the aunt to the bride would be in an adjacent room listening to prove that they both have what it takes to satisfy each other’s sexual desires or would check the beddings which they slept on to check for blood stains as a symbol to prove that her niece was still a virgin before marriage. However, this is no longer done in modern times as people have evolved away from that tradition. The next day, the bride returned to her parents’ house where she was now an unveiled for the whole world to see her face. After a few days, the bride was escorted to her new marital home by a group of relatives called “enshangarizi”. The bride stayed indoors for a few days and at the end of these days a ritual by the agricultural Banyankole called “okukoza omuliro” which means “help her make a fire in the kitchen” was conducted then she officially became part of the family however the pastoral Banyankole carried out another ritual called “okutasya ekihara” which officially welcomed the bride to the her new family. Both these rituals symbolize that the bride has become part of the family and can now start full filling all her duties as a wife henceforth and this marks the end of the marriage process for this newlyweds
In order for you to have an encounter with Banyankole and have a listen to more of these stories make a Uganda safari to Lake Mburo National Park. Lake Mburo National Park Uganda is located in the western district of Kiruhura which inhabited by many Banyankole people who will give you a one on one experience with their culture. What’s so interesting about undertaking this Uganda wildlife safari to Lake Mburo national park is because its gives you an opportunity to not only to listen to first-hand information from the very people who live these stories every day of their lives but also encounter some of the attractions in Lake Mburo National Park Uganda that will definitely allure your attention such as the numerous Burchels zebras that roam the vast savanna plains Lake Mburo. On a lucky day, you can easily spot some of the big cats here like the leopards. Other Uganda safari attractions in Lake Mburo National Park include giraffes, hippos, Nile water crocodiles, 350 bird species, cape buffaloes and many more. While on a Uganda safaris here you got a myriad of Uganda safari activities in Lake Mburo National Park to engage in such as game drives, boat cruise over the Lake Mburo, birding, horse riding biking and many more. On your safari in Uganda to Lake Mburo, you can choose to stay in a variety of Uganda safari accommodations in Lake Mburo National Park such As Mihingo Lodge, Mburo Acardia Cottages, Eagle Nest Camp. How to get to Lake Mburo National Park? Getting to Lake Mburo National park shouldn’t worry to you as it lies only 250km or 3 hours journey from Kampala city Uganda’s capital.
- 1 day Jinja source of the Nile tour Jinja tour day trip
- 1 day Kampala city tour trip Uganda
- Sipi falls day trip
- Ngamba island chimpanzee day tour
- 1 day Mambamba swamp birding excursion
- 1 day short Uganda safari to Lake Mburo
- 3 days Uganda safari to Lake Mburo
- 2 days chimpanzee trekking safari in Uganda
- 3 days chimpanzee trekking in Uganda, Kibale National Park
- 9 Days Rwenzori Mountain Climbing Safari
- 10 days Rwenzori Mountain Climbing Safari
- 2 days Murchison Falls safari in Uganda
- 3 days Murchison Falls national park Uganda safari
- 3 days Queen Elizabeth safari Uganda
- 2 Days Gorilla Safari in Bwindi
- 3 Days Uganda Gorilla Trekking Safari to Bwindi
- 3 days Uganda Safari to Kidepo National Park
- 4 Days Safari in Uganda to Kidepo Valley National Park
- 2 Days Uganda Gorilla Tour Mgahinga Gorilla Park
- 3 days Uganda Gorila Tour to Mgahinga Gorilla Ntional Park