African Wedding Traditions and Influences of West and Islam

Polygamy Tribal Customs

Polygamy is a main feature of African tribal customs…
Christianity and Western values are influencing the African society for monogamous relationships. However, Islamic permission for polygamy has strengthened the African tribal customs in this regard. The statistics show that 36% women in rural areas and 24% women in urban areas have to accept polygamous marriages.
Most of the women prefer monogamous marriages to acquire importance with their husbands and to avoid pressures and jealousies of the previous wives. However, it is wrong to say that Islam has caused polygamy in Africa. The ancient African tribal customs prove that polygamy had been prevailing in the African countries for centuries.
Some claim that polygamy in Africa is result of marriage in teenage. Some point out that polygamy is result of age-gaps between husband and first wife. Some others even claim that African women accept polygamous marriages to get protection of the wealthy and influential married people.
In eight out of our eleven countries, the proneness to marriage in early ages is in varying degree. Incidentally the uneducated women not only prefer to marry early but also involve in polygamous relations. On the other hand the girls in schools prefer to delay their marriage for a significant time. The educated women also reject polygamous marriages and prefer to be single wives of their husbands. They don’t like to become junior wives to the less educated or previous wives.
Analysis show that the African women getting education have to face a short marriage market for a compatible husband. Some allege that such situations the women prefer prohibited relationships with older husbands of worth, hoping that their roles as “outside wives” will help them advance into superior social echelons.

Today’s African wedding traditions date back to thousands of years. It has never been a marriage between two persons but a bond between two tribes. Even today a marriage means a union of two families. On the other hand variety of religions, customs and ethnic groups has made African wedding traditions a bonanza of ceremonies. Marriage ceremonies are colorful, bewitching and colorful.
The African marriages are divided into different categories including:
• Ankole Wedding Traditions
• Pygmie Wedding traditions
• Moroccan wedding traditions
• Nile Wedding traditions
• Congo Wedding traditions
• Zambian Wedding traditions
None of two categories are exactly alike. But most of the African people like to follow their marriage customs even in Western societies to pay homage to their cultures.

Other African Tribal Customs

A traditional African wedding is a complex pack of divergent customs, rituals and events. The influence of Islam, Christianity and Western values is imminent. However, African public prefers to follow their centuries old African tribal customs with a lot of honor and pride.
A marriage in Africa is not union of two persons but of two families. And majority of African marriages are arranged. The role of families of the marriage partners is very important. The
general public considers arranged marriages as a symbol of honor and prestige. That’s why every notable family and their children prefer arranged marriages even when their children develop some kind of affair before marriage. The children of a married couple are considered belonging to the families and their parents in equal terms.
On the other hand the poor families allow love marriages. The young people have to decide their life partners independently. Though they may have consent of their parents but still they are not forced to enter an arranged marriage against their wills.
In African tribal customs, the girls are supposed to avoid sexual interaction before marriages. They protect their virginity as a symbol of their honor and respect. Most of the women in African believe that they should follow a specific order of love, marriage and childbirth.


In today’s Lamu communities the brides are mandated to be virgin before wedlock. They recognize it as a chapter of honor and respect. They want their women adjusted to safeguard their families and support a good esteem.
Under Western vehemence some people may accept pre-marital sexual relations as a part of marriage process. Some may argue that it is a way to determine sexual compatibility between the partners and to examine their fertility. However, there are certain scientific and psychological methods to determine the both sides without having sexual relation.
In African tribal customs the age of the marriage partners has never been an issue. However, under the influence of Islam and Western values, the modern states of African have preferred to fix a minimum age level for marriage. The marriage age level is low in uneducated girls while it is increasing fast in the educated girls. In Muslim and Protestant families the women prefer to marry from 19 years to 29 years of their ages.
In African tribal customs, the bride is shows to the whole tribe. It is a symbolic consent of the bride to enter in the world of women. She is going to be no more a girl but a woman who can share her private talks to other married women.
A special ceremony is organized. The public welcomes the bride with clapping and cheerful sounds. She is admitted as a star of night. The brides are expected to wear traditional marriage dresses. However, if families allow the bride may go for western styled marriage dresses.

Important Features of African Marriage Traditions

• Most of the African wedding traditions are impressive and expensive.
• The twelve symbols of life may be administered in some African wedding traditions.
• One of the most interesting African wedding tradition is jumping the broom.
• Another interesting tradition is that couple’s rings are tied to a long ribbon and passed through the crowd. Every one in the crowd is a symbol that the society is not expressing its support to the marriage but also taking responsibility to help it continue.

Modern Way to Adopt African Wedding Traditions

Love to African marriage traditions has forced the African families to conduct two marriages in western culture. They follow their traditional ceremonies in one marriage and modern western cultures in other marriage.
Many Africans will agree that these trends have strongly influenced the original colors of their marriage ceremonies. It is not a surprise that African marriage traditions have been changing radically in many countries. Many modern Africans may prefer to go to court and follow common law arrangements.

Influence of Religion and West

The vastly followed religions; Christianity and Islam, have also influenced the African marriage traditions. The Muslims in Africa try to follow the traditions advocated by different Muslim scholars. They dance and sing but always offer a Valima.
The bride should be a virgin by the centuries old traditions of African people. However, under the influence of western culture, the tradition is dying. The violators claim that they want to be sure about sexual compatibility and fertility. However, Islam does not allow this kind of liberty. There are certain medical and psychological tests which can meet some requirements.

African Wedding Proceedings

The first step in an African wedding is to manage a meeting of the both families involving in the wedding ceremony. They try to investigate and understand each other to the best level. After marriage ceremony, the bride comes to live with the groom and his family.
Then a wedding feat is hosted. The bride is shown to the guests. This ceremony is one of the major ceremonies in an African marriage. The bride enters the women’s world.
In Egypt marriages are largely arranged. There is a musical wedding march called the Zaffa, just before the marriage ceremony. Usually a married couple is elected to “sponsor” the bride and groom throughout the wedding and during their first years as newlyweds.
Ideally, the bride wears a wedding dress that has been passed down by her mother and grandmother as a sign of respect and family pride.
Another African wedding tradition involves a rosary or ribbon being wrapped in a figure eight around the couple’s necks or waists as a symbol of their unity.
Flowers are everywhere at any Guatemalan wedding, and the ceremony is followed by singing and dancing and rejoicing.

A Caribbean Island wedding does not stand on ceremony. Even the guests do not need some specific invitation. In fact any one can join the marriage without any hesitation. A Caribbean Island wedding ceremony can go on all night, with traditional steel-drum island music, lots of sweet but potent rum punch, wild dancing and many toasts to the health and happiness of the new couple. A typical wedding feast features curried goat and spicy chicken jerky. The food at a typical island reception reflects the uniqueness of the Islands.
And no Fiji wedding reception is considered complete without the traditional drink of the islands, Kava.