Of MaRooro: A Traditional Marriage

Marriage has always been the ultimate commitment to any relationship, sometimes unspoken even downright ignored but it’s always there lurking…………..

a ring

In the Zimbabwean culture, the aunts Vatete (your father’s sisters) and their children (vazukuru) are the pillars of a family, they mediate and interpret the wills and wishes of the fathers and uncles….

There is a Shona saying:

Muzukuru mudonzvo

Meaning the nephew is an uncle’s walking stick.

When you plan to get married and also honour the traditional way, you first inform your aunt and she helps break it to your family and father(s) that you are now grown up and wish to marry. You contact the aunts of your fiancée’s family and they consult with their family and a date is set up when the in-laws can come to be seen, to ask for the daughter’s hand in marriage and pay the bride price (roora/lobola)

It’s a big to do, the day the in-laws come, marooro, the whole family gathers. A lot of cooking goes down and some will miss out (usually the daughters-in-law) as they will be stuck behind the scenes cutting vegetables, cooking and cleaning making sure everything is perfect….

When everyone is assembled and ready a message is sent out to the suitors that they can send in their go-between/mediator (munyayi). Sometimes the aunts can help you arrange for a mediator who understands the fathers to help swing things in your favour as cultural differences can cause misunderstandings, before the formalities are done one cannot be directly address wife’s uncles, hence the need for a go-between.

The mediators arrives and the fun begins.

First the mediator cannot sit on the sofas, even if invited to do so must decline politely and sit on the floor. The lobola (bride price) negotiation ceremony is delicate balance between a very somber affair and a light hearted occasion, and the mediator must walk this fine line navigating through the proposed figures and what they are willing to pay/afford to pay. Sometimes these talks have been known to break down so irrevocably that they get cancelled and the suitors are told to come back better prepared or when they are more serious….

Generally a list such as the one below will be presented with the proposed figures and the mediator takes the list to back to agree with the suitors and item by item they make a counter offer. The mediator will do a lot of back and forth as the suitors will be waiting a distance away or at a family friend’s house.

lobola list

Ndiro –is money for the plate the money will be put into, and no you wont get a discount even if you bring your own plate.

ndiro yeroora


Vhuramuromo – which translates to Open Mouth is money so that the uncles can start talking otherwise they stay quiet even if you greet them. #FunFact A bribe is known as vharamuromo meaning close mouth (hush money)

Mauchiro ana baba – Round of applause to welcome and greet the fathers

Mauchiro ana mai – Round of applause to welcome and greet the mothers

Makandinzwa nani – how did you hear about us? That we had a beautiful daughter

Matekenya ndebvu – Tickling beard for the times growing up the daughter was playing with her father’s beard

Mafukudza dumbu – For the mother, for indignities suffered during child birth

Pwanyaruzhoafence breaking, this is a charge for the times their daughter snuck out of the house to come see you.

Rusambo– the actual bride price

Danga- the cows which can be delivered as actual cows or a cash representation

All of these items on the list are paid for with individual sums ranging from $1 to even an outrageous $20 000 depending with families.

No one is ever supposed to pay the whole amount and it’s a bit of scandal when suitor pays everything down to last cent, they say you are showing off, that you are trying to buy their daughter and take her far away and have no reason to ever come back and also be unaccountable should you harm or abuse your wife.

The change you leave behind that debt which you promise to finish is never really paid it’s a way for one to come back and meet the family and say I have brought a little of that amount that I never finished, also for the family to be able to ask favours of you. The elders say one takes better care of something you are still paying for. There is a Shona saying:

“Mukwasha muonde haapere kudyiwa”

Translation the son-in-law is a fruit tree one never stops eating from.

When the mediator is done with these formalities and payment negotiations finally the suitors are ushered into the house and welcomed and introduced into the family Kupinda mumusha.

Now they greet with their father in laws and they are now family.


If the are plans of a church wedding, this is when you inform and make a request of your intentions……

It seems easy enough, but it is all quite an emotionally taxing event, tempers will get tested, nerves will be frayed it seems like the negotiations go on for ever…….


What has your experience at such an event been like I am curious any different items on The Lobola list



day 11 blog everyday challenge



Of Religion, Culture And The Divide Between

From before Christianity made its way to the African Soil, we have ultimately always believed in God, A Supreme Being, The Creator. Traditionally we believe that the souls of our departed ancestors (Midzimu) watch over our family, protect it from harm and intercede on our behalf to The Creator (Musika Vanhu)

The ancestral spirits also needed appeasement, family gatherings were held, a cow was slaughtered and traditional beer brewed. For some reason the ancestors live vicariously through us and develop a taste for traditional beer. I have always been curious what would happen if our departed kin were teetotaling vegetarians…… Regardless of the reasons it’s a great excuse for families to celebrate life and honour their heritage…..


And then missionaries came, somewhere somehow it had been decided we were lost souls who needed saving and that our ancestral spirits were evil and honouring them was a vile practice.  Granted some traditional practices were bad but we were made to feel that everything traditional was backwards, to be civilised we had to leave it all behind. Looking back I sometimes question their benevolence, because the role of missionaries is intricately tied up with the colonisation of African countries……….

Religion has a way of being warped into a tool that controls the will of its followers, sometimes with good intentions, but that’s what it’s paved with the road to hell……

Today there is massive rise in a new type of church, led by firebrand pastors who dress in designer suits, wear expensive time pieces and drive luxury cars. They tell you that your time of break-through is coming, in order to receive, you must first give, good lovers a cheerful giver, so give give give…

Miracles are performed some which seem suspiciously choreographed and are better suited for a magician or illusionist’s performance. People flock to see this demonstration of power and to buy anointed artifacts. The more controversial pastors even wind up in the news, some claim to have cellphones with a direct line to God himself or having visited him and took selfies together in heaven……


The end times are coming….. and then someone asks me why I don’t go to any particular church? I will read just read my bible and make peace with my conscience and be a good human being and hope he is a forgiving God.



Day 10 blog everyday Challenge