Other than funerals I guess it’s accurate to say that the next big events are weddings. They too have their own protocol and formalities. A lot goes into the engagement as well as the formal ceremony and the process actually starts once the man asks for the woman’s hand in marriage. It’s a whole elaborate affair that involves families as opposed to the more Western notion of it being individuals. The individuals themselves become a part of the ‘skit’, playing their assigned roles in the ever unfolding drama.
A big part of the negotiations seems to be that of the bride price – crudely put, the amount in cash and kind that the man’s family will ‘pay’ for the woman in question. It’s funny to get questions about bride price given that I am from
Anyway, the issue of bride price came up again this morning as my helper’s brother is finally getting married. The discussions have taken a year and even at this stage with the wedding set for December the negotiation still is taking place. Thought it would be interesting to share the list with a bit of explanation:
1 bottle JH Henkes Schnapps – only the best schnapps can be offered; a tradition carried over from the says of trading with the Dutch, it is thought that the Dutch schnapps is better than the local brands
Knocking and acceptance fees Father - USD 20
Knocking and acceptance fees Mother - USD 20
(This is just for going and literally knocking on the door; when you enter this paid to both parents. This is even before discussions are started)
Father’s down fees - USD 20
(from what I understand this is not charged by all tribes; this also is to represent a token of the amount of money that has been spent on the woman by her family and a gesture saying you as the man’s family is appreciative)
Mother’s Tamboba fees - ½ piece of cloth
(Same as the father’s down fees; see explanations on costs below)
Head drink+ 1 bottle JH Schnapps - USD 200Dowry and one bottle whiskey - USD 200
Bible and ring and a bottle of wine
Akonta Sekan - USD 20
(The money that the woman’s brother will receive from the husband to be before you are released)
Ahyiadze (translated from Akan ‘we are coming to wed you’)
1 big suit case
Six ½ pieces cloth (a half piece of cloth is roughly six yards; again the best in the Dutch was prints, namely the brand name Holland; one piece is roughly USD 65; there are also local brands such as GTP which goes for USD 25 – USD 30)
Earrings, necklace etc
Underwear, bras, panties etc.
1 bottle Castle Bridge Gin
I crate minerals (aka sodas)
1 crate malt
1 crate beer
Begya Nsa - USD 20
(drinks for the witnesses)
Fascinating isn’t it? The costs for the actual wedding has not been calculated at this stage.
Ok, well am off to calculate how much I am worth.