Wedding traditions in Africa

The Cradle of Civilization, a rich source of ancestral traditions and continent of many cultures: Africa has many, many different wedding traditions.

From the Muslim rituals of North Africa to the Hindu and Christian traditions, weddings in Africa are also about animist rituals and voodoo. The common thread found throughout Africa and marriages through the various tribes and religious rituals, is probably the key role of the family in traditional African customs.

In each African country, there are dozens or even hundreds of different tribes across multiple ethnic groups. Nevertheless, family weddings are always at the center. Some customs date back to ancient times. In Africa they are often transmitted by oral tradition only!

The role of marriage in Africa

africaNumerous African countries stress the central role of the wife in preparing women for marriage at a young age. Marriage is then the goal of every part of life. Girls must be ready to become a good wife and remain a good wife. Marriage is the event that the African girl is waiting for when she grows up and everything is done to help her become a model wife.

Virginity is one of the main requirements for young girls when they are due to marry, and they must also have basic skills such as cooking, agricultural work, sewing and caring for others.

In Africa, polygamy is not uncommon. For example in a country like Somalia, according to tradition a man can “reserve” a wife when she is still a baby, and in the past, even before she was born. Today, developing countries no longer practice these customs, although they still take place in villages and in more traditional families. The custom of polygamy was seen as the preserve of rich men. It was necessary to prove that the groom was able to take care of all his wives properly and feed all their children because with many wives, there are many children.

Thus, in many countries in Africa, marriage is a long-awaited major event that brings together entire villages and lasts several days and nights. It is common in some African countries to celebrate the marriages of several couples at a time.

An African marriage custom: a wife for livestock

Women in Africa do much of the farm work and in some African countries, losing a daughter when she is getting married and will go and live with her husband is very hard for the family. Of course the mothers and sisters are affected by the departure of the bride, especially if she leaves the village but the hardest part is that a family living in difficult conditions loses labor to do agricultural work. This represents a considerable financial loss and marriage can ruin an African family.

Therefore, in some countries in sub-Saharan Africa such as Sudan, in order to provide some kind of compensation to the bride’s family, the groom traditionally offers something in return. This will ease the burden that falls on the family by losing one of their daughtesr. The groom offers several animals, and the richest grooms will offer a whole herd. Negotiations can last several weeks.

Marriage: Family couple therapy in Africa

In Africa, divorce is rarely seen because a couple’s problems are debated amongst the whole family until an arrangement is found that will save the couple and the family honor. The whole village may get involved in the debate. Everyone is invited to share ideas and give advice to the couple. This custom is practiced often because marriage is too important to be broken, for whatever reason. Marital problems are not uncommon, however, as couples are sometimes barely teenagers when they marry. The first years of marriage take place under the gaze of parents, family and neighbors, and the teenagers have no choice. As they grow up, some start to express doubts about their spouse.

A difficult personality, laziness, the refusal to perform certain tasks, infidelity and even sexual problems: everything is brought out into the open in front of everyone, whether the husband or wife or both are the cause of the marital difficulties.

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