Weddings of Christians are joyous moments in a pastoral ministry! I had the great pleasure of officiating another wedding in Kenya. Juma and Valerie are the fifteenth couple I have officiated in Kenya. The customs and practices of the Kenyan weddings are quite similar to American weddings yet quite different. Each tribe in the country have several marriage rituals. Some of these ancient tribal traditions have pagan roots and thus are shunned by many Christian couples. But majority embrace their tribal customs and modify the rituals to be acceptable as per the Word of God. There is a Dowery ceremony which is literally the traditional wedding ceremony that usually precedes the actual church wedding. The government of Kenya regards these traditional marriages as being legitimate marriages. So we request couples to wait to have this ceremony once they are done with their premarital counseling with my wife and I.
Among the young Nairobi couples we have counseled the wedding rituals are as follows: the man usually proposes marriages to the woman. This is followed by the man approaching the father of the woman and asking his permission to marry her(Called Introductions). If all goes well and he is granted permission, this is followed by the groom’s family visiting the bride’s family, during this time they discuss the dowery that requirements that are made by the bride’s family. Yes, the groom has to pay the bride-price! To raise sufficient funds to meet the dowery requirements, the groom and bride’s friends and relatives gather together and have frequent fundraising meetings. During this time they cheerfully give toward the dowery and the wedding. Then marks the time of the Dowery ceremony. The groom along with his family, relatives, and friends arrive at the Bride’s home while singing joyous traditional songs. The bride is usually hiding in a room in the house while the dowery negotiations go on between the parents. As per Kikuyu tribe in Kenya, girls can be valued at 99 goats. But among the Luhya tribe, the dowry demands are payment in bulls and cows (4 goats = 1 cow). The Groom and family can choose to pay for it monetarily. Rarely are the Bride’s parents satisfied with the groom’s payment of dowery and usually demand more. This ceremony is very jovial and filled with plenty of food, dancing, and singing. If the requests of the bride’s family are met this is followed by gleeful ululations. And the grooms family departs the Bride’s home before sunset.
On the morning of the Church wedding day, the groom comes bearing gifts with his greater family to the bride’s home. The grooms family sings traditional songs requesting the doors be opened. There is often a sing-song exchange between the ladies on either side of the gate, this eventually leads to payment of the remainder of dowery and giving of the gifts. Finally, the bride’s family will joyfully give the bride away to go to the church to be married. The mood is always exuberant during the exchange of vows and rings and the merry ululations, tribal singing, and dancing of all the wedding guests continue for hours during the wedding. Thank you for taking your time to read our newsletter, for your prayers and financial support for our ministry!
- PLEASE PRAY AS WE PLAN TO HOST A TEAM IN FEBRUARY NEXT YEAR.
- C.C. NAIROBI’S WORSHIP TEAM.
- PLEASE PRAY FOR ELIZABETH, THAT GOD WOULD PROVIDE FOR ALL HER NEEDS AND THAT SHE WILL FIND HER TRUE CONTENTMENT IN CHRIST.