African traditions in modern weddings have influenced and changed how weddings are organized globally; it’s no surprise to see some of these traditions in almost every popular African wedding video you find online.
Africa has been blessed with so many things, from natural resources to creativity and artistry, but one thing we hold dearly among all is our culture and traditions.
Our traditions, which have endured through centuries, hold a special place in our hearts and form the foundation of our identity in any society we find ourselves in.
This diverse tapestry of cultures, languages, and traditions shapes not only how we communicate and relate with people but also how we conduct our marriages.
Want to know some of these popular African traditions? Well, keep scrolling to find out.
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Why is African Traditions Still Relevant in Modern Weddings?
Marriages in Africa are more than just the union of two individuals; they’re more like merging families, clans, communities, and tribes. And in any case of cultural amalgamation, there’s always bound to be continuity in traditions and customs.
These age-old traditions bridge the past and present and are the major reason we still find African traditions in modern weddings.
Not forgetting to mention that Africans are the most immigrants in this current global dispensation, thus giving us more room to spread our traditions to every continent we find ourselves on.
You won’t be surprised to see an African tradition at a purely Caucasian wedding. Not because Caucasians have African ancestry but because they have close friends who are Africans and may have helped in organizing their weddings.
The following are some of the most popular African wedding traditions you may have never heard of:
A Feast for the Groom
The Bemba people of Zambia have a rich set of customs and traditions regarding weddings. These customs make the journey to marriage special and meaningful.
While preparing for a wedding, they have a custom called ‘Bana Chimbusa,’ where the bride receives secret counseling. It’s like a preparation stage for the bride, where she gets wisdom and advice for her new life.
Then comes the ‘Chilanga Mulilo’ ceremony. This is a unique celebration put on by the bride’s family for the groom’s family.
This ceremony is not unique just because of the delicious food about to be prepared by the bride; it’s also a way to show the groom what delicacies he can look forward to enjoying after marriage.
This feast symbolizes the bride’s family’s warmth and hospitality. The beauty of this tradition is that other tribes in Africa have now adopted it.
Matching Outfits (Aso Ebi)
If you know Nigerians, then you’re probably familiar with the Yoruba culture. The Yorubas are one of the major tribes in Nigeria that don’t joke with celebrations. In fact, they have a unique name; they call it “Owambe.”
The Aso ebi (meaning family cloth) is a must-have uniform attire worn by the Yorubas, and you can only attend a Yoruba wedding or claim to have attended one if you wear the Aso ebi.
Aso Ebi, one of many African traditions in modern weddings that will continue for years to come, is not only the practice of wearing matching outfits but also serves as a visual representation of the unity among the about-to-be merged families.
It’s a way for the couple and their guests to demonstrate solidarity and celebrate their shared cultural heritage.
Kola nut offerings
For the people of Gambia, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria, the kola nut symbolizes respect and reverence for ancient traditions and ancestors.
This is why you’d find kola nuts in almost every wedding list crafted by the bride’s family for the groom to bring as part of the gifts required for the wedding procession.
During wedding ceremonies, these nuts are offered as a symbol of hospitality, respect, and good fortune.
Breaking and sharing the kola nut signifies the beginning of a joyful journey for the newlyweds.
Marriage Mentor Hides Under a Bed
To most African tribes, marriage is a union of two individuals to make a family. Still, to the Swahili people, a marriage is not merely a union but an initiation into adulthood.
And in every initiation, there’s a mentor to guide the process. To the Swahilis, to ensure marital success, a “marriage mentor” is required to hide (stay) under the couple’s bed during the wedding night.
This discreet presence is to observe if the couple is following what they learned from the marriage mentor and is a sign that the newlyweds now have the wisdom to embark on their journey together.
You may wonder how a bath is considered among African traditions in modern weddings, but some baths are not about soap and sponge; some involve herbs and ancient recitations.
To the Gwere people and their Bagwere culture, cleanliness, and purity are paramount in preparation for marriage. The Bagwere culture admonishes that the bride and groom are wedded pure and free from past wrongdoings.
So, before the wedding day, the bride and groom undergo a ritual bath, often conducted by an elder under a tree. This cleansing ceremony signifies the shedding of the past and the beginning of a new chapter in their lives.
Giving Birth before Marriage
In some cultures, giving birth before marriage is considered having a child out of wedlock, but to the Nuer people of South Sudan, the birth of a child before marriage is a blessing and a sign of a fruitful marriage.
The groom is required to bring 20 to 40 cows to the bride’s family before the wedding. Then, both the bride and groom-to-be are to have intimate knowledge of themselves, and the bride is supposed to bear two children before the full commencement of the wedding.
While some of these African traditions seem odd in modern weddings, it still doesn’t dispute the fact that these traditions were created not only to spice up a wedding ceremony but to add meaning to it in a cultural way.