Hope you are having a wonderful midweek. I’ve been burning to write this article about dowry * Mahari * Lobola * and all the other names it is recognised by. I was born to Kenyan parents from two different tribes, for all you people who did not know lol and for this reason, I have been raised knowing that when the big day comes, when my king arrives to pick me up…. my exit from my family will not be cheap!! My parents tribes are so diverse but one thing they have in common and can agree on is dowry! I am aware that it is not only Kenya that shares this cultural phenomena but pretty much most countries in Africa as well as other countries outside.
I was having a discussion the other day with my partner (yes guys, I am not single but if you feel you have more to offer contact me) so, back to what I was saying, he brought up the marriage discussion and I welcomed it, because I love a good discussion of course!! He thought it was wise for us to start talking about our future and wanted to know what he needed to do when the day came. He is not from Kenya but still from the motherland and he is aware of bride price but not the Kenyan, Kikuyu/luhya tradition.
He asked me roughly how much he would need to save up and I flatly told him a minimum of AUD $15,000… I know some of you think this is even much…. but to be honest, if he wants to do it right with my clan, this is barely nothing. Don’t hold your breath guys….calm down and listen to my logic!!
People’s opinion of the bride price varies, some feel that paying the bride price means taking ownership of the bride, or buying the bride… and sadly, in some cases, it has become just that. However, in a lot of cultures, the bride price is seen as a token of appreciation to the community that raised the bride. Take note when I say community*
In comparison to the westernised individualistic culture, In Africa, a child is raised by the whole community. I think all Africans will agree that it is quite common for a neighbour, distant relative, random person to discipline a child…which would constitute abuse in western countries. The same community will take ownership of the individual who grew up in it if they succeed and would want to participate if the person got married. I cannot tell you how many weddings I attended in Kenya without an invitation…lol the only invitation I needed was that I was part of the community hahahah
Historically, the dowry was also used to signify social class. The groom’s family would give the most to show that they would be taking the bride to a wealthy home. If the bride came from a wealthy family, it would only be reasonable for them to welcome equally wealthy or wealthier families. It was a way to trim down unfitting grooms. If you really think about it, it makes sense why they would do that. In the olden days, a mans job was to provide for the family, while a woman’s job was to take care of the home. Why would parents then send their children to a family that could not take care of their daughter?
Now it’s slightly different, the practicality of the bride price has turned to significance and cultural restoration. So, going back to the $15k, I know a lot of you will be wondering how I came to this amount. Firstly, I want to say that I really respect my cultural heritage and as such, any man who will be coming to ask for my hand in marriage, will have to pay the bride price. Secondly, for those who might not know, the bride price amount is not decided by the groom or his family…it is decided by the elders (in my culture it is usually only men) of the bride’s family. The elders usually consist of men in the family who are experienced negotiators!! The groom’s family will also know to come with their elders who will haggle, batter and deliberate on the amount to be paid.
I gave my partner that amount so that he should not go there and be embarrassed when he only comes with $1000… which would have not even covered the cost of the drinks my family will buy for his visit! In my family, marriage is an expensive occasion…. the ‘community’ will come from everywhere… some will need the bride’s family to pay for their accommodation and transport, food will be bought…look at my size… know that genetics plays a part in me having a curvy body but also know that we eat…. a lot of good food…..the luhya community will testify to that!! the food will not be cheap!!
Also, we are Kenyans, we are known to love our drink and having a good time…. know that the liquor fountain will be flowing, the Nyama choma (roast meat) will be sizzling, the music will be blasting…… should I continue?? and when I say music, I mean traditional music…so, my mother will have to hire traditional musicians and pay their transport from her hometown…. plus food and accommodation.
Know that women will come to cook…. the whole day, they will want to be paid by traditional materials, the same women will sing for the bride and shake their hips…. they will ululate and cheer… and they will go home with some of the food rations that the groom’s family will have brought.
The elders deliberating on the bride’s behalf will have come from their homes…. they will need drinks and since they are rooting and haggling for you, the bride, they will need some portion of the money. Then there is my parents… they worked so hard to raise me, pay for all the extra classes that I did not use, pay for all the plates I broke in the house lol hahah and all of the injuries that required hospitalisation… they will be happy that I found my king…but secretly, they will wonder, will that king afford to have me? I can fully say that my parents do not really care which nationality I marry and are not really keen on the bride price, because they hardly get anything after everyone has got a portion, but they respect and adhere to the culture. They are all about doing things right… and so am I.
My entire community will come to witness my marriage…. they will come to see this man from a totally different country and culture take their beloved daughter (Me… because I am awesome like that!!) emotions will be high… some will be wondering why I could not find a good man from my village who would be able to carry me with his big muscles… if not in my village, any other village in Kenya… why I had to do the most and go to the other far end of the continent. They will even wonder why I did not go to our closest countries who share the same ancestry… we are bantu…I just had to do the most!! This is why AUD $15,000 is a minimum for my family. Other families may differ…
That is what I told my man!! He has been acting a bit weird after that conversation…being all stingy and all 🙂 could be that he’s saving for the bride price OR ready to stop spending on me altogether!!
It is what it is!!!
I know I get followers from everywhere in the globe…tell me, do you guys have to pay bride price? if so, roughly, how much is it?