By Claire Balungi
Bride price in many cultures is considered a token of appreciation paid by a man to the parents of his intended wife. This is the main requirement for a traditional marriage.
Laban Sabiti, 29, a businessman and resident of Ruhija sub-county in Rubanda District is reported to have defaulted on the payment of bride price for the mother of his five children. Ms Prize Twikirize was taken away from Sabiti’s home by her father, Geofrey Kakona, who resides in Kanungu.
Geofrey reclaimed his daughter on the basis that Sabiti had not settled his daughter’s bride price amounting to Shs6m. Sabiti admits that he had not paid bride price but that he was planning to clear it in December this year. He was in shock when his supposed father-in-law took his daughter away and left him stranded with five children, the eldest being 10 and the youngest, a 13-months old breastfeeding baby.
Daily Monitor reported that Sabiti filed a police case for child neglect.
A number of Ankole front-runners weighed in on the debate and disagreed with Geofrey’s action of taking away his daughter, sharing their thoughts on the occurrence in question;
According to Sam Niyonzima, the Kisoro District Community Development Officer, traditionally, a groom was expected to deliver two cows as bride price in Ankole. He says that these days, a man can pay between Shs 5m and Shs 20m. He expressed that exorbitant amounts are a threat to the institution of marriage
Christopher Namara, Kabale District Community Development Officer says that in Kabale, a spouse would pay four cows and four goats as bride price in the past, but that now it ranges from Shs 4m to Ushs 10m. Namara notes that such bride price encourages men to treat women as bought property which results in family misunderstandings.
William Katatumba, chairperson of Ankole Cultural Trust refers to Sabiti’s case as commercialization of wedding events and says it’s a threat that leads to marriage failure. “Our culture is being eroded. People dictate what pleases them at the expense of culture, which is why marriages are failing.”
Mr Katatumba goes on to note that traditional norms were not honoured in Sabiti’s case since there was no recognized marriage. “Since Sabiti has sired children, he has to pay a fine that usually consists of millet flour, a jerrycan of Tonto and a goat or sheep,” Mr Katatumba reveals
The State Minister for Gender, Labour and Social Development, in-charge of Youth and Children, Ms Sarah Nyirabashitsi Mateke, advised parents not to commercialize marriage customs. “It should be the responsibility of the husband to pay something within their means as a token of appreciation to their in-laws,” Ms Mateke advised.