Culture The Beauty of Africa

The Ndebele Traditional Wedding Ceremony Which Takes Years to Complete

Ndebele Traditional wedding ceremony
Written by See Africa Today

Think of a traditional marriage rite that takes years to complete – one that is only over after the first child is born. You would be thinking of Ndebele traditional wedding ceremony.

The Ndebele, are a tribe from South Africa; Pretoria precisely. They trace their roots in the larger Southern Africa; Zimbabwe, South Africa and Botswana.

Their wedding rites are bemusing because it involves three crucial stages taking years to complete.

These stages seem weird and irrational in the modern-day but this is what binds the community in the wake of the westernization craze.

The Ndebele are famed for patriarchy and polygamy, which are hallmarks of their culture. The use of traditional medicine is a part of the cultural practices of the Ndebele people.

The origins of this group can be traced back to the Bantu ethnic group as a whole. Mafana was the first known chief of the community.

Ndebele Traditional ceremony

Ndebele Traditional ceremony. Photo/The Guardian Nigeria

Mhlanga, his son’s father, succeeded him. Musi migrated to the hills of Gauteng in the 1600s, where he established a settlement.

A necklace of intriguing things happens during a Ndebele traditional wedding ceremony. Here they are.

What Happens at a Ndebele Wedding?

A Ndebele traditional wedding ceremony has three distinct stages that are religiously observed.

Stage one, Labola – cash and livestock-based payment plan for the bride happens. The couple’s two families (the future husband and wife) agree to the gift of lobolo.

However, money or other presents may also be used as a form of lobolo in the present day.

The second stage is a two-week separation of the bride known as the “bukhazi” ceremony.

It takes place a week prior to the wedding. The bride-to-be is sequestered with the other women in her community to learn about the responsibilities of her new role as a wife and a contributing member of the community.

There is a long period of ‘interning’ between each rite.

Lastly, the bride completes the third phase of the Ndebele traditional ceremony by having a first child.

Interestingly, the Ndebele people allow polygyny – having more than one wife at a time.

Is Ndebele Traditional Wedding?

A Ndebele traditional wedding ceremony starts with a letter to the bride’s family asking for date for Labola (bride price) negotiations.

The soon-to-be groom sends the letter. The girl’s family will need a sheep, blankets, a broom, and some clothing, which he buys.

The groom’s parents give the Labola to the bride’s parents, and then they bring the girl to meet with the man’s family.

Writing up a guest list and sending out invites two weeks before to the wedding is part of the pre-wedding preparations.

Tradition dictates that meals must include ‘mielie pap,’ – traditional maize meal. Meats salads, fruits, sweets and cakes are all served.

What Clothes Do Ndebele Wear?

Ndebele People

Ndebele People. Photo/Momo Africa

It is customary for the bride’s mother to prepare a Jocolo just before the Ndebele traditional wedding ceremony.

Jocolo is a special apron made from goatskin decorated with beautiful colorful beads.

During the wedding ceremony, all married ladies wear this particular gown, which symbolizes a mother surrounded by her children.

At a chosen location with family members present, the couple will repeat their vows and place rings on one other’s fingers during Ndebele traditional wedding ceremony.

They then change into their traditional attires and head to the new bride’s house to eat. Gifts are given as a token of affection.

Even more unusual is the fact that the newlywed’s Ndebele name will be bestowed upon her by the family’s eldest son, who will stay behind with his parents and grandparents after the wedding.

A successful wedding is declared as soon as the bride goes to sleep.

What Kind of Food Do Ndebele Eat?

This community’s mainstay diet is corn. Isitshwala, a type of maize cereal, is a favorite. Milk made from corn and sorghum is widely consumed.

They also cultivate and eat a wide range of food crops, including fruits and vegetables, in their daily diet.

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About the author

See Africa Today

Pharis Kinyua is the editor of See Africa Today. With over seven years of experience in digital media, he has a soft spot for African tours and travel. His drive is to tell the rest of the world what Africa offers, the best accommodation facilities, national parks, culture, shopping malls and best airline deals to travel to Africa

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