Tradition is all about practices that extend through generations. It provides us with a source of identity by telling the story of where we came from and reminds us of what shaped our lives. Its importance in the modern world is not forgotten, especially among African communities where certain customs and symbolic practices must be done to complete certain rites.

In many African communities, its not only about the glamour of a white wedding, or the marvelous wedding gown and attires donned, though important, but also about the blessing of the marriage from the ancestors and completion of the marriage rites.

A perfect depiction of this was seen through Kenya’s Youth and Gender Chief Administrative Secretary Rachel Shebesh traditional wedding to her long time husband Frank Shebesh. The ceremony dubbed as ‘Ngurario’ is one of the most important events among the Agikuyu customary wedding rites. It celebrates the completion of dowry payments to make her an upstanding woman in the society. Unlike the glorious cakes displayed at modern weddings, this event involves the symbolic practice (‘Gutinia Kiande’) of the bride cutting a piece of meat of a lamb’s shoulder.

The long serving politician remarked that she was fully married in the Abaluhya community but her husband acknowledges her Agikuyu background hence the holding of the ceremony.

“I have been married for 24 years, I have children and grandchildren, and I am 100 per cent married in the Abaluhya community, but my husband appreciates my background and appreciates my family, that is why we are holding this event” she said.

Among the Agikuyu tradition, it is stipulated that after completion of the marriage rites, she is then able to accept dowry from her daughter’s suitors. She then proceeded to serve him porridge symbolizing her duties as his wife.

During the ceremony, the moderator explained the different parts of the slaughtered goat as symbols of the different parts of their union to the witnesses, as a crucial part of the ceremony.

Written by Stanley Omambia

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