BRIDE-TO-BE: When you have little say on your traditional wedding

Thursday October 11 2018

No matter how modern you are, you will find that when you declare you have found a spouse, you will always return to tradition. Traditions you did not know about. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH

No matter how modern you are, you will find that when you declare you have found a spouse, you will always return to tradition. Traditions you did not know about. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH 

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I have been missing in action. A lot has been happening in my life. 

I am pleased to announce though that I am now traditionally married.

About a month or so ago, we had what we call the Nyombo ceremony. This is the equivalent of the ruracio or koito or ntheo. Basically the man with his people comes to declare his intention to formally have the girl join the man’s family as his wife.

You do not just declare intention; you come bearing gifts in cash and in kind to symbolise a token of appreciation for all the hard work your parents and relatives have done in raising you.

This is my account of how it went down.


Because of issues beyond my control, we had this ceremony later than it should have been.

You quickly realise that you have very little say in what happens on this day. The number of meetings and misunderstandings was draining.

The back and forth phone calls to plan was a headache.

We had the option of doing the requisite ceremonies leading up to the Nyombo in one day, but alas that was not to be.

Basically, in the month of August, I was hosting someone every weekend. We had the events back-to-back which could have been comfortably spread out.


No matter how modern you are, you will find that when you declare you have found a spouse, you will always return to tradition. Traditions you did not know about. I was livid with one of the people my father chose in his committee as a spokesperson. I had not met him before then. He was making demands that he had no right to.

That he would be one of the people speaking for me gave me anxiety. I did not want to offend my in-laws. I had to put my foot down (respectfully) and ask that my beau not be harassed. The lobbying worked out but boy did I sweat.

There were so many voices.  So many versions of how people thought things should go, how they did it in their time, what I should do and not to do, what he should do and not do. I realised at this time that it was very easy to get caught up in fear, and fail to enjoy what a milestone this was.

I forgot to invite a friend of mine and her feelings were hurt. This was not intentional. First, I had so much on my plate, there was just no way at least one thing would not suffer. Second, if you invite many people it reflects in the money. As it is I felt we were spending way too much and I was glad for those who did not show up.

My beau and I did not end up in matching outfits as per people’s expectations.  At the end of the day I was just happy to have him there. Everyone else in attendance followed my requested dress code and that touched me deeply. I am glad that things worked out eventually better than I had hoped.


I was once of the school of thought that I would never get married. I thought I would find someone who we at least agreed with, and I would move in with them. I mean, what does love have to do with it?

The truth is I was scared to admit that I wanted to spend my forever with someone who celebrated me, not tolerated me. I wanted someone to love me but because things were moving too slowly or not at all I was willing to settle.

This Nyombo process showed me how much he loves me. I cannot begin to imagine what he went through for that day to go as smoothly as it did. I know he was stressed and under pressure and wasn’t sleeping. He chose to go through that vetting process from my people and take me honourably. Our parents were so happy that we chose to do this the right way. I shall forever hold this dear.


I do not like to be presented with too many options.  I kind of had that disadvantage. First was the design of my dress. I had 10 designs and had to narrow down to one. The first time I tried on the dress I nearly died. It looked nothing like the photos.

Luckily with a few adjustments it made the cut. Still a hit with the in-laws and my peers to date. The menu had to be just right. Did we want three starches or drop one in favour of a protein? What vegetables shall people eat? We MUST have Ugali.

I was fine with plain tables and chairs but then that would be too plain. We had to have the chairs and tables dressed. Did I have a theme colour, what is the dress code? By the time the day arrived I was ready to be done. The suppliers went over and above my expectations. It was worth it in the end.

 All this being said, I understand why people cohabit. Apart from basically having to integrate into a new family, the process is expensive. I attended a ruracio and one of the girls was of the opinion that to formalise the union, all that was needed was a pastor to preside over it so that you move on with your life.

I fully endorse this message and would have done this myself. But for now, we focus on the D- day which is weeks away and amidst all the pressures, I really cannot wait to say I do.