Writer: Daniel Osbert Irankunda
A little over twelve years ago, I had a real talk on weddings with a retired 75 year old Canadian missionary woman who had spent many years in Democratic Republic of Congo. She was very disappointed at the way Ugandans do weddings in comparison to Congolese in the parts where she works. The family of the bride is given cows for dowry and if these cows were for example eight in number, the family of the bride would slaughter one for the wedding and give the seven as a gift to the newlyweds to begin a farm of their own.
This kind of tradition does not only celebrate the newlyweds but it also caters for their future. It put into account the financial challenges that the couple may encounter as they begin their new family. I wasn’t married yet when we had this talk and it really impacted the way I would later plan my own wedding, a wedding in Uganda, a country where people go crazy when it comes to spending on weddings. In fact many people have made millions upon millions running businesses associated with weddings in Uganda.
Such celebration is a part of culture and culture is very important. Therefore it wouldn’t be good to attack such weddings in general but if the couple that is going to get married isn’t one which has money lying around, wouldn’t it be better to do a sort of wedding that would empower the new family rather than drain them of even the little they have? Just think with me, wouldn’t it be better if the money collected during wedding meetings is to be given to the couple as start-up capital to start for say a family business?
We have seen couples that had lavish weddings, only to be evicted from their apartments a few months later; Couples that acquired loans from banks and loan-sharks just to spend on a one day ceremony and years later they are still paying back the money. If most of these young men were to be honest, you would find that a good percentage will confess to have suffered extreme pressure during and after the wedding ceremony. No wonder only a few of the bridegrooms in Uganda look rested during the wedding reception. Some even look outright angry and disgusted.
If it all is a heavy burden and it becomes many times a reason for sorrow and distress in the young family, wouldn’t it be better to find other ways to go about these ceremonies? After all, we who attend these ceremonies claim that we want the best for these couples. In the Congo they found their solution, what could be the solution in your culture? Sticking to smaller weddings even after Covid-19 is gone? It is about time we revisited our thoughts about giveaways, introductions and weddings if they are to continue making sense in our cultures.