By Maria Immaculate Owechi
During traditional introduction ceremony, the groom is expected to bring bride price comprising of different items to his in-laws, but what does a bride bring to the table? My Wedding contacted Twaha Mukisa, a traditional ceremonial spokesperson, and we found out what the bride’s side has to offer to the groom during the traditional ceremony.
Twaha explains that the bride’s family has to invest in preparing the venue that provides an ambiance convenient for the function, hire professional service providers, agree on the program line up and prepare for any emergencies like rain that may disrupt the ceremony.
He says that a groom may fund a percentage of the party preparations at the bride’s if his entourage will be too big for them accommodate or his wife’s family are not well off.
However, Ms Teo Kusasira, a professional ssenga and a preacher at Holiness Christ Church, Entebbe, says organizing the venue to accommodate the groom’s entourage should solely be the responsibility of the bride’s family.
“In the past, it was heard that the man made any contributions to the preparation of the function, his wife’s family would be under looked in the community.”
“In fact in those days, the groom’s entourage had a small manageable number that his in-laws could easily accommodate. These comprised of the spokesperson, his brother, sister and the paternal uncle and aunt,” she explains.
In Central Uganda
In modern introduction ceremonies, the brides in buganda carry a well decorated basket with fruits, wine or soda as a present to thank the groom for fulfilling his promise of paying her bride price. This basket is known as Kabbo k’omuwala.
Twaha explains that this is something done out of courtesy and has been adopted in this era but in the kiganda tradition, it is not a cultural obligation for the bride’s family to offer any gifts.
“The only gift she can offer to her in-laws is by being properly nurtured to be a good wife in order to look after her husband, future children and nicely set up her home,” he says.
Ssenga Teo adds that it is for this reason that when the girl became a teenager, she was taken to the paternal aunt’s place to ensure she remains a virgin, she visits the bush to elongate her labia so that she can maximize pleasure for her husband in bed and also taught how to cook special meals like luwombo and culturally steamed matooke.
A month before the ceremony, that the bride would be confined in the bedroom and given final tips, okuvuma omugole, which seemed like they were abusing her but it was just about counselling and cautioning her about certain habits that should be avoided while in the marriage.
How the Baganda give back
Teo further explains that in past, the couple would have their honeymoon at home. “The honeymoon took place like for a week without any disturbances to the newlyweds. Then, after 7 days, the bride’s family comprising of her paternal aunt and sisters came to pay them a visit which is referred to as okuzza omuzigo /okuggya omugole mu kisenge (getting the couple out of the bedroom),” she mentions.
The team from the bride’s home came along with everything they will need to cook for the couple and did not have to use anything from the groom’s home. Plus, they carried along gifts like a goat, hen, matooke, mats, and a winnower.
Teo says that with the modernization today, the gifts have evolved with people bringing stuff like kitchen ware or items for setting up the bedroom.
In Northern Uganda
According to Benson Olong, a businessman and an elder from Lango sub region, the offering of gifts is solely the obligation of the groom.
“It has never been a cultural obligation for the bride’s family to offer any gifts except for a few items like kitchen ware to assist their daughter as she settles in the marriage,” he explains.
Unlike the Baganda and Langi, Twaha explains that, there are tribes in some parts of the country where it is a cultural obligation for the bride’s family to send her off with a number of items to help her settle in. In these cultures, the groom also gets to gain tangible items from the functions.
In Western Uganda
Twaha explains that it is a cultural obligation for most of the tribes in western Uganda to give some gifts to their newly married daughter and he decides to use the banyankore tribe as the best example.
“Among the banyankore, the bride does not go empty handed and the gifts she carries from her home, emihingiro are at times more than those paid by the groom as bride price,” he states.
He adds that the bride’s family offers a number of cows, goats and today material things like setting the whole bedroom, kitchen or a full house .
Am told that this also depends on the financial capacity of the family and therefore, the package offered is according to what they possess or can afford.
In Eastern Uganda
“In Eastern Uganda, among the banyole tribe, the family of the bride has to give a package called omuhuruko to their daughter or son to start a new life. This can be land, animals or household items,” Twaha narrates.
He gives an example of one of his friends who gave his daughter a chunk of 5 hectares of land filled with a forest of eucalyptus trees as her bridal package.
Except for the above two, in Buganda and tribes in northern part of Uganda, the bride’s family does not have any cultural obligation to present any gifts.