The Kikuyu tribe is the largest ethnic group in Kenya, making up about 22% of the country’s total population. Kikuyu culture is one of Kenya’s most documented cultures, with lots of facts illustrated in books and movies.
It should be noted that Kikuyu traditional wedding customs, could be slightly different for some family to family.
Below are the 4 awesome guides to Kikuyu traditional wedding process.
1. Express of Intention
As with most African traditions, the Groom-to-be must come to make his intentions known to the bride’s family. There might be some hard questions asked by the father in law but that is to be expected.
When coming, the groom should not show up empty-handed. Bringing some foodstuff for his new mother-in-law and a token for his father-in-law is a good way to be on his in-laws’ good side.
After this visit, the bride’s parents notify their trusted friends that a gentleman would like to marry their daughter. From these trusted friends a small group of men and women will be formed. They will negotiate on the details of the dowry with a similar group from the man’s family.
2. Second Visit (family Introduction)
After the bride’s parents have met the man asking for their daughter’s hand. The second visit allows them to meet the people who raised him.
Yes, the groom’s parents and close friends will be expected to also go to the bride’s home so that her parents can meet and set a date for the Ruracio (Dowry or bride-price payment ceremony).
Here, the bride’s parents or senior ones will also inform the groom’s older people of their dowry requirements.
NOTE: It is crucial to follow the dowry requirement strictly; otherwise, it can lead to a breakdown in communication during the dowry negotiations.
3. Bride-price Negotiation and payment ceremony
Some close family members of both parties will be taken to a separate place where they will negotiate and pay for the dowry. In any Kikuyu traditional wedding, the Spokesman from the girl’s family will ask the visitors to introduce themselves and state their reason for coming.
The groom’s spokesman will answer by saying that they found a flower from this home and will want to pluck it.
Once in the room, the bride will be called and asked to give her blessings before her family could accept any gift coming to the groom’s family.
The dowry could be:
- A fattened ram
- He goats – Numbering from 99 onwards depending on the negotiation made
- 20 cows
- Soft drinks- for women
- Lessos – for women
- 5 Creates of Beer
- Bed and lots more
Once the negotiations by the men are done, and the women’s requests are settled. There will be jubilation and beer is shared for people to drink. Food will be served for everyone to eat.
The people feast and get merry. At the end of the day, the groom is free to take his bride’s home.
4. Kikuyu Traditional Wedding Ceremony
On arrival for Kikuyu traditional wedding ceremony, the groom’s family will find the gate closed. This is a sign to show that they must sing a song to find their way in. Then the bride -to -be and her female relatives welcome them in with songs and dances.
After settling in and before any eating the bride to be is taken away by her fellow female in-laws and relatives, there she is given some advice meanwhile the groom start planting a branch of a tree which symbolizes that the lady has been booked by the groom.
The bride’s families (the hosts) are to introduce themselves first. During their introduction, the family spokesperson will introduce everyone except the bride. He will round up the introduction by saying that they have several other daughters who have been sent to the stream to fetch water.
Other introductions on the bride’s side will be done and the master of ceremony will invite the spokesperson from the groom’s side to introduce themselves.
The introductions again will begin with the family of the groom but excluding the groom, he will be called up when all his family members are done with their greetings.
As in, most African wedding traditions and customs, the groom will be asked if he is sure that he directed his people to the right girl’s home. He answers will be big ‘YES’.
The groom will have to find his bride. She will be hidden in a group of women all wearing lessos which cover them up completely.
This task could be made a little harder; the women will wear thick woolen socks. This extra measure is done to cover body marks he could use in recognizing the bride!
He will be fined, should he accidentally pick the wrong girl. Once he successfully finds the bride, then he will be asked to cut the shoulder of the goat (kiande) slaughtered in honor of the occasion.
Eating the ears
The tradition of eating a goat’s ears involves the groom giving his bride goat’s ears to eat. These ears are gotten from the goat already slaughtered earlier during the kikuyu traditional wedding ceremony.
The goat’s ear is handed to the wife; who then feeds her husband and she, in turn, gives her husband, who also feeds her.
This act is significant in reminding the couple that they should always listen to each other; that the union they have entered into entails both of them to pay attention to each other.
Other married women of the same age as the bride also eat goat’s ears to remind themselves to listen to their husbands. Older women don’t partake in this.
In every Kikuyu traditional wedding, the bride will have to ceremonially groom her husband by combing his hair, shining his shoes, cut his nails and then wrap a towel around him before feeding his groom with some porridge.
The groom pretends he is interested in the meal and turns his head to face the opposite direction; he wants is to be appeased by his bride. Finally, he accepts and the bride is happy.
The porridge in most case is served in a calabash.
At the end of the porridge eating, some relatives from the groom’s side go to meet with their corresponding representative on the bride’s side to pay some more dowry.
It is often said in the Kikuyu traditional wedding, that bride price payment or dowry is never finished.
Afterward, the master of ceremony calls upon the couples in front of the gathering and announces that they have been rightfully been joined in a kikuyu traditional wedding.
He then reads out the certificate number and proclaims their union legal. The Marriage certificate is then awarded to newlyweds.