Acholi Tribe: In-laws Visiting Bride's Family for First Time Have to Crawl into Home

Acholi Tribe: In-laws Visiting Bride's Family for First Time Have to Crawl into Home

  • Just like many other African tribes, the Acholi people of Uganda have their traditions to be followed when their women are getting married
  • There are three different stages that the Acholi follow to ensure that they officially recognise their women as married before the in-laws take her
  • Among the traditions that the Acholi people follow is that when the in-laws visit the bride's home, they have to crawl their way into the house

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Traditional weddings are often quite a lot of work. That is to say, frustrating for the couple involved.

Ugandan INLAWS
A photo of men from the inlaws crawling into the house of the bride. Photo: My Wedding Uganda.
Source: UGC

Uganda is a country of diverse cultures, and in each, their kind of introduction ceremonies.

While the side of the groom has its special nerves, the idea of having their "sweethearts" officially handed over to them for life makes the entire strenuous bride-price paying process worth it.

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Acholi is one of the major tribes in Uganda, occupying the districts of Agogo, Amuru, Gulu, Kitgum, Nwoya, Lamwo, Pader and Omoro in Uganda.

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Like any other African tribe, marriage is considered a crucial phase of life among the Acholi people, and it involves many steps, as explained by My Wedding Uganda.

Courtship

The initial stage of every relationship is meeting and wooing.

When an Acholi man meets the girl that impresses him and intends to marry her, the first step of showing responsibility is casually visiting her mother's home accompanied by a friend.

Later, when the visitors leave, the girl informs her mother of their identity. Then, an investigation is made to ascertain whether the intending couple is not related by blood or clan.

Eventually, the man tells his side of the family about his heart's interests, and when it is agreed upon, they set off for introduction and settlement of the bride price.

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In the past, it was wise for a girl to look for somebody who could afford enough cattle.

But with the many changes within the 21st century, ranging from poor economy and materialism, the requirements can vary from livestock to assets according to the wishes of the bride's family.

However, if the girl gets pregnant before the introduction ceremony, tradition seeks that she delivers from the home of the intending father as proof that he acknowledges ownership of the pregnancy.

Eventually, the girl is left to go home with her child after birth. If her man still wants her, he will have to follow her and pay a fine for both she and the child to return with him home.

After this, the preparations for the introduction ceremony begin.

Introduction

The man's family comes to the woman's home for the introduction ceremony. This involves the introduction of tribe, clan and family background to establish whether the two are related or not.

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This part is usually casual. The dates for dowry settlement are then established, and the woman's father writes a list of what is required as bride price.

It ranges from cash and tangible goodies (edible or not) to livestock.

Dowry settlement

Eventually, through a coordinator, negotiations are made, and a date for the traditional ceremony is set.

This happens only in the evening at the home of the mother of the bride-to-be. It is disrespectful to visit the mother-in-law during the daytime.

The rest of the people who were not invited during the visit to the mother-in-law's house can come to celebrate after everything has been settled so that they all feel involved.

John Ojera, commonly known as Ozeric Live for his traditional radio show on Uganda's Mighty Fire 91.5FM, explained why the ceremony is done at night.

He said the ceremony is done in the evening because it is assumed that some people might not wish the family well during the day and will try to do evil things if they witness the proceedings.

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Before they come, spies, usually, aunts from both sides, are placed in different parts of the home to see who comes before it is evening.

This is more of a game. The first person to see the arrival of the groom and his company ululates and is awarded a gift, usually in the form of money.

A ribbon is placed at the home's entrance, usually the gate, so that before the groom's family enters, he pays an agreed entrance fee before it is cut to give him passage.

Immediately after entering the compound, they are required to get on their hands and knees as a sign of respect and crawl to the mother's door.

Yet again, when they reach, there is another entrance fee required before they are welcomed inside the house.

A fee locally known as obal-kwan is usually paid as compensation for ruining the bride's education if the girl either dropped out of school because of the man or she is still in school.

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The girl is also required to recognise the groom and his family and consent they are the ones, but before she freely speaks, the groom's family has to pay a certain fee.

The bride will then spread animal skin on the ground, for this is where the dowry cash is placed.

Her father will then check the list to confirm that everything is settled accordingly, and the groom will be accepted into the family. If even one is not, the function will not proceed.

If all is settled, there will be ululation from one of the aunts to confirm that the marriage will be official.

There is also a lot of dancing and ululation with all sorts of drinks served throughout the night.

Finally the celebration

For every celebration, the Acholi cultural wear is the gomesi for ladies and a kanzu for men. Suits can, however, be permitted.

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The mother-in-law cooks for the groom's family, and the marriage celebration lasts for two to three days.

This includes the introduction of all the family members of both sides, congratulations and conclusions.

When all is done, the bride remains at home for some days as she is prepared by her mother, sisters and aunts for marriage.

As she leaves, her mother packs for her the kitchenware that she will use to cook at her husband's home.

The bride goes with her sisters to her new home. There is further rejoicing and merriment at the groom's home in welcoming the new bride.

In a ceremony known as kiyalo to mean appreciation, the bride's sisters help her make a meal for her inlaws so that they taste her food.

Eventually, the bride's sisters and inlaws leave in order for the new bride to take up her wifely roles in her new home.

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Marriage List That Includes Mortuary, Coffin and Cement fees Among Other Things Causes Massive Waves

Meanwhile, YEN.com.gh earlier reported an engagement list consisting of fascinating items surfaced online and sparked many conversations.

The picture of the list sighted by YEN.com.gh on the official Facebook page of Connect FM has over 200 netizens commenting at the time of this publication.

From the comments, it appears the marriage list that consists of 150 cement bags, iron rods, a mortuary fee of Ghc3000, and a coffin fee of Ghc4000, among other requirements, looks pretty unusual to netizens.

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Source: TUKO.co.ke

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