Of coffee and marriage

If you were having coffee with me, I would greet you at the door and I would ask you if you aren’t glad I’m not the kind of host to insist that you take off your shoes because the floors have been waxed and shined to glass like perfection.

I have decided people who insist this simply want to cheat you into helping them shine their floors with your socks. If you are going to make such an imposition at least use a colourless floor wax and not a vivid red or thick black which has a nasty habit of staining the soles of your feet/socks and the inside of your shoes unless of course you are going to help me with my sock laundry and or a pedicure 😂

If you are having coffee with me and I ever visit your house, and you ask me to remove my shoes I’ll insist on staying outside, I am wearing mismatches socks you see,🙈 actually you can’t see it, that’s why I’ll keep my shoes on.

One minute you have a drawer full of matching pairs of socks, next time you look again and you find only one of each. 😯 I am strongly considering buying a pack of the same colour of socks but you might think I never change them 😂 now stop trying to catch a glimpse of my ankle cleavage to see if my socks match. . …😛

If you were having coffee with me, I’d tell you about how I accompanied my older brother for the lobola (bride price) ceremony for his fiancee. For those not familiar with this traditional custom of ours, this is when the prospective son-in-law gets formally welcomed into the family and introduced to the father of the bride, after negotiations and payment of the bride price of course, and this is also when you get to request for or asked if you intend to have a church wedding…..

Some argue that paying of a bride price objectifies females into possessions that can be bought, and is blamed for some instances of domestic violence, where one feels entitled to certain privileges by virtue of having paid for it.

I had an interesting discussion with an uncle of the bride, who was remarking how the tradition has been warped by folk who simply want to profit from their daughter’s marriage making unreasonable demands on their prospective son-in-law. How would they expect him to look after his
new households if they take all he has saved up.

If you were having coffee with me I would tell you that the main reason for the lobola (bride price) ceremony is not about the money it’s about showing your commitment, being introduced to the family and also an excuse for a family to show off how they raised a proper daughter who leaves home by marriage (culturally having a child out of wedlock is scandalous to say the least) and in the event of your divorce, they would like for you to gather them as you did to tell exactly why you will be parting ways.

The negotiation ceremony is quite the headache if I might confess but this is also part of how it all works out. According to the family elders “One does not appreciate that which comes easily.” So all the challenges you experience are for a reason, and to make you value your commitment.

A wedding is loading watch this space

If you were having coffee with me I’d tell you that as soon as we came back from the ceremony the first question I got asked was … “So Beaton you are next, when are we getting a bride….”

Laugh Out Loud

~B

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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

ndiro

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

~B

 

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