Africa is big. Its territory is inhabited by many different tribes with their original customs, traditions, rituals, most of which remained unchanged for thousands of years. And of course the most interesting among them are marriage and wedding traditions that vary from tribe to tribe, but still have some common characteristics.
The first of them – young groom have to pay ransom to the parents of the bride. And as in Africa for centuries dominated subsistence farming, ransom can be not necessarily money (in our modern sense), but a variety of useful items. Depending on the particular tribe as ransom can be clothing, cookware, carpets, grains, vegetables, dairy, livestock (cows, goats, and camels) and even weapons (spears, meadows in the past, now – machine gun). The pirates in Somalia as ransom sometimes give captured tanker or bulk carrier (this is of course a joke, but every joke has a bit of true).
Sometimes is not difficult to pay ransom, and sometimes to pay it you have to hard work half life. It should be noted that in the African culture bride is treated as not buying her, but rather thank her parents for having raised and brought up such a good girl, and provide proof of ability to groom to take care about his future family.
By the way, in some African tribes is still widespread polygamy, but have a few wife is able only man who can take care about all of them.
But let us return to the traditions of marriage – an essential feature of any African wedding is crazy dancing till you drop. Sometimes guests in African wedding can dance all day and all night.
Groom of Samburu tribe (Kenya) for their wedding must bring required amount of cows, they paid to the father of the bride as the ransom. Then the bride is in the process of circumcision, the father gives her sandals from cowhide, and his future son-also gives sandals, but with lion skin as a symbol of bravery and courage. Then the young couple goes through a fine line of relatives of the bride, who as a blessing spit (!) on them. Upon arrival to the house of the groom, the bride is not go in until she get the desired number of cows in her property, and if she does not like something, she is entitled to return to his father’s house, and in this case the marriage is invalid.
The Zulu wedding ritual begins with the shedding of beer on the ground, Zulu beliefs that this ritual help attach to wedding celebrations all the dead ancestors. Then a cow or goat is being sacrifice and celebration begins: young families lined up one against the other, beating drums and tom-tom, everybody dancing. And Zulu wedding (just like some Slavic) sometimes can not do without fights between family members from both sides of the spouses.
Interesting wedding customs have Masai tribe – the day of the wedding is almost like sporting competition from jumping. The groom competes with relatives of the bride about who will jump higher. If the groom wins, then he can not to pay the ransom.
After the celebration in the house of the bride’s father gives his already married daughter his father’s blessing. And makes this quite enjoyable (for our European point of view, of course) way – spits on her forehead and chest.
In Yoruba Tribes (Nigeria) brides always have to taste pepper, honey and dried fish. These dishes symbolize the bitterness, happiness and productivity of family life. The family of the groom has to be dressed in the same color scheme, and the bride family to another, it symbolizes unity not only two people but two families.