Culture The Beauty of Africa

Why Namibian Bachelors Have A Hard Time When Marrying

Rings exchanging hands
Written by Teresa Mwangi

African traditional rites of marriage are unique but nothing comes close to the daunting task ahead of bachelors marrying a Namibian woman. Loyalty is deeply valued in each home you get into in Namibia and it passes from one generation to another.

At least, the civilized Namibian populace values the loyalty of a man and cringes on polygamy or infidelity. That’s why senior citizens marrying off their daughters take the groom through a loyalty test never seen or heard of in Africa before.

What Is The Namibian Marriage Culture?

Marrying a Namibian woman is not a walk in the park and young men thinking of settling down always shiver at this thought. A bride’s sisters take centre stage in securing their sibling a man of repute, not by words alone but by deeds. After the introduction to the in-laws family, the sisters (if any) embark on an intense loyalty test of their prospecting in-law.

marrying a namibian woman

A Namibian wedding ceremony. Photo/D& D Clothing

The loyalty test forgets modesty. Every thought and emotional provoking seduction scenario you may have in mind comes to play in public. The role of the sisters is to do everything just to get the attention of the man like he should to his wife in the bedroom. If he lets his feelings in the ways and warms up to them, he is pronounced disloyal and unfit to marry in that homestead.

However, if he appears totally unbothered through his bodily reactions to the advances by the sisters to his prospective wife; he wins all the way.  While it appears immoral and uncivilized, some Namibian historians maintain that this tradition binds a lot of marriages. They believe that a man who has control over such pleasure has the ability to keep his marriage strong and healthy.

What Are The Wedding Customs In Namibia?

Wedding customs in Namibia are rich and diverse, reflecting the country’s multitude of ethnic groups. These Namibian traditions vary across communities, with each ethnic group showcasing its unique customs. Common elements and practices include the payment of lobola (bride price), traditional attire, pre-wedding rituals, and the significance of traditional ceremonies.

Lobola, or omutu, is a customary practice where the groom’s family negotiates with the bride’s family to determine the bride price, often involving the exchange of cattle, money, or other goods as a symbol of appreciation. This practice underscores the importance of family and community in Namibian weddings. Traditional dress plays a vital role, with brides and grooms wearing attire specific to their ethnic group. For example, Herero women don striking Victorian-style dresses, while Himba women are known for their leather garments and unique hairstyles adorned with jewelry and ochre.

Himba People

Himba People. Photo/BBC

Pre-wedding rituals are significant and vary between communities. These rituals may include the exchange of gifts, blessings from elders, and purification ceremonies to prepare the couple for their union. Traditional ceremonies form the heart of Namibian weddings, featuring dances, songs, and cultural prayers that celebrate the couple’s heritage. The wedding feast is a pivotal aspect, featuring dishes like kapana (grilled meat), mahangu porridge, and local delicacies that honor Namibian cuisine.

Religious ceremonies, predominantly Christian, often follow traditional customs. A church service is common, blending modern vows and ring exchanges with traditional elements. The reception combines both old and new, with traditional music and dancing adding vibrant energy to the celebrations.

Guests bring gifts, including money, household items, or livestock, to support the newlyweds as they embark on their married life. Decorations are colorful and incorporate traditional motifs and symbols meaningful to the couple’s culture.

What Are The Traditional Wedding Rules?

Beyond paying the bride price which is a deeply embedded traditional African marriage rite, there is more. According to tradition when marrying a Namibian woman, the bride and groom seat at the center of the head table. On the bride’s left side, there should be her father, the groom’s mother, and the best man. On the groom’s right side, there should be the bride’s mother, the groom’s father, and the chief bridesmaid.


Namibian couples often blend their ethnic traditions with modern practices, resulting in unique and meaningful wedding ceremonies that reflect their heritage and personal preferences. Ultimately, Namibian weddings are a testament to the country’s cultural diversity and the importance of tradition, family, and community in celebrating love and commitment.

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About the author

Teresa Mwangi

Teresa is a journalist with years of experience in creating web content. She is a wanderlust at heart, loves travelling and telling stories about tour and travel in Africa by every angle.

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