african wedding

Traditional Zimbabwe Wedding – check

hard mashona-type cattle

Hard Mashona-type cattle

So for those who already broke the bank to buy a ticket, don’t panic. I’ll briefly describe what I think the process of getting married is in Zimbabwe. If you ask Zimbabweans, including my family, how this is supposed to happen – as in REALLY, what is the custom, you get a bunch of different answers. It happened anyway.

First the characteristics of this wedding in the case of Eunice and Matteo.

Matteo was in Germany for a meeting. Eunice was in New York – because I live here. A go-between/negotiator (Munyai) was assigned to represent Matteo. Since the transactions basically between Matteo and my family, I don’t need to be there. And apparently, he doesn’t need to be there either. This all happened at the end of April.

Since I’ve been living out of US for a while my family was nice enough to ask how much Matteo can afford. For those who know Matteo – how on earth can I answer that? Especially since he doesn’t like paying for anything other than holidays, air tickets and now even weddings.

We assigned a “Munyai.  This was my brother’s friend and Matteo knew him well enough. It turns out that since on the bride side there were at least ten people, the groom side had to have at least four people for a quorum. So unbeknownst to us, three people were additionally appointed on the fly to support the Munyai.

So you can imagine this is a rough negotiation. It took all day. Hours in fact. I heard they were at this for ten hours. Could have been an exaggeration.

So here is the cost of marrying Eunice. The Bridal price is called “Roora”. From the verb Kuroora – to marry.

  1. Home entry fee: $15
  2. Greeting fee: $10
  3. Notification/introduction fee: $5
  4. Beard tickling fee (when I was a kid and sat on lap and tickled my fathers beard): $5
  5. Money for the sisters: $20
  6. Money for the brothers: $25 [OK – I have two brothers and one sister]
  7. Money for the mother: $600
  8. A “stamping” cow (literal translation) or live cow for the mother: to be delivered by Matteo in Person.
  9. Money for the tribunal: $50
  10. Money for the aunts: $400
  11. Dress for the mother
  12. Suit for the dad
  13. Money for the Dad: $3000
  14. Herd of (5) cattle

All of this except (7),  (13) and (14) have to be paid prior to the ceremonial wedding. For instance, my sister was married in 1996 and those haven’t yet been fulfilled. Just saying.

In our case, at the end of the negotiations, Groom’s team notified the tribunal that Matteo would like to take the bride by a wedding. Traditionally, this was pretty much it – and would be followed by a ceremonial handover of the Bride to the groom’s family after a ritualistic demonstration that bride can take care of the groom….. and other details such as confirmation that she’s a virgin blah blah by morning after sheet check – whatev….there is an opt-out option if the groom is not interested in this kind of information.

Matteo now officially owns me.