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Divergent African Customs

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The African customs of marriage are treasure of colorful ceremonies and peculiar traditions. They are showing influence of Islam, Christianity and Western culture. But the Africans love to follow their diversified traditions wholeheartedly.

In African marriages, the families have to play very important role. Most of the marriages are arranged by the families of bride and the groom. It is particular evident in the case of noble and rich families.

In African customs, a marriage is considered a way to unite two families. Even the children of the bride and groom a re considered equally belonging to their families. Under the circumstances the families in African customs are heavily involved in marriages of their children.

Contrary to general practice, the poor families allow their children to marry partners of their choice. They don’t consider it against their honor to allow their children to exercise their right of choice.

Forced Marriages?

Some critics love to term these arranged marriages as forced marriages in marital African customs. They go a step ahead and claim that whatever a groom pays to the family of the bride is nothing more than price of the bride. They even claim that such a relationship ends in torture on the poor wives of African society.

But they ignore one factor. Arranged marriages have been a prevalent mode of marriage all over the world, during last many centuries. Even forced marriages have been a common phenomenon. The flow of information and improvement in knowledge has taught new generations to exercise their rights of choice in marriage issues. Not only in African but in Asia and many other regions the arranged marriages are considered an honor for the families of the marriage partners.

Another strong facet is repeatedly overlooked. Africa is largely affected by two factors; Western culture pattern and beliefs. Islam is spreading. Christianity has zealous followers in Africa. Most of the Muslim sections don’t recognize validity of a forced Marriage. The African Muslims ask for consent of the marriage partners but only after decision of the families.


Chasteness of women is considered an important feature in African customs. The women are supposed to be virgin before marriage, in most of the cases. They are also supposed to follow a specific order of event from love affair to the birth of a child. The idea of physical love without a wedding is not recognized in the African countries.

The African tribes have been maintaining this feature for centuries. However, now there are claims that many African girls have been falling to extra marital relationships under the Western cultural influences. Some even argue that it is a good method to see sexual compatibility and fertility of the parties. This point of view is not enjoying good support. But it does not mean the African customs are intact.

Age on First Wedding

Studies have been made. The legal code is very decisive. But the absolute age of bride and groom on their first wedlock is not clear yet. In old days the wedding was contracted as early as possible. Now the education, dogmas and Western society are the critical agents to upgrade the capability of first wedlock. The Muslims and Protestant brides marry from 19-29 years. In Christian families the age of marriage is higher.


Most of the young women prefer monogamous marriages to buildup absolute prestige with their males and to keep away from the pressure of his other wives. However, the unorganized data shows that about 36% brides in rural and 24% in urban areas have to bear with polygamous alliances.

The polygamy is not an end product of first marriage in lesser age. However, the age gaps within husband and woman play a part in the heavy number of polygamous relationships.

In eight out of our eleven countries, the likeliness of teenage marriages vary scantly amongst uneducated girls and those with primary schooling, so that education appears to be primary reason for significantly delay in marriages. Young educated brides don’t agree to be polygamous wives; they resent becoming junior wives to women with less qualification or even authoritarian wives in polygamous matrimony. Because educated brides face a marriage market restrictions so many of them may go for illicit relations with older men, hoping that their role as "outside wives" will help them advance into superior social echelons.


In African customs of marriage one ceremony is called Kubama. It is showing the bride to public. This ceremony takes place in the evening of the marriage. It is a symbolic appearance of the bride to claim her right to enter in the world of the women. She is going to be no more an unmarried girl.

When the woman makes her entry to the public, she is welcomed and applauded with clapping and joyous cries. In African customs the brides wear their traditional wedding dresses. However, under the Western influence some may go for the western styles of wedding dresses.

As per African customs, single Kubama is sufficient. However, wealthy people enact two such wedding events. African wedlock traditions are followed in one marriage and western style is adopted in the other.

Marriage Gift to the Parents of Wife

The African customs demand from every groom to offer a gift in cash or kind to the parents of the bride. The critics say that it is not a gift but a fixed price that every groom has to pay as a price for the bride. This money is taken as a payment on an old loan that needs not to be returned. The eatables that are devoured together are not part of the price but a token of hospitality.

On the other hand a marriage in African customs is not considered as a relationship between two persons but a unifying bond between two families. Such a union can’t take place between families of a groom and the priced bride.

The Muslim families have altered the tradition as per orders of Quran. No marriage is conducted without fixation of dower. In many cases, the brides take their dower even before consummation. It is no doubt a strong valid reason for a bride to abstain from sexual relations unless her dower is paid.

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