Kamba Wedding Traditions

The Kamba is a tribe found in the Eastern Province of Kenya, in the greater East African region. They have deep-rooted traditions, which are practiced especially in their marriage customs. Under the Kamba customs, a man must show his respect for the bride’s family by first acknowledging that their girl has been brought up well and is therefore of great worth. Despite verbal acknowledgements, the Kamba customs allow for dowry payment to the brides family, something unheard of in Toronto. The dowry shows how much value the groom attaches to the bride.

Dowry is mainly in the form of cows and goats. The number of these animals driven to the brides homestead is used by the bride’s family to measure how well off the groom is and to gauge how well he is likely to provide for their daughter. Wedding photos start being shot at this stage. The brides worth increases depending on how beautiful, hard working or enterprising she is. The most expensive dowry payments have however, been made to girls who have undergone formal education.

Before the bride’s family approves a Kamba wedding, they have to enter into negotiations with the groom’s family. This mainly occurs when the bride’s side feels that their daughter is worth more than what the groom has given them in terms of dowry. In cases where the groom cannot meet the demands immediately, future visits on set dates are made. The family can invite appointed elders to aid in the Kamba wedding negotiations. Wedding photos are also taken at this point. When the two sides finally agree, the wedding ceremony is approved and it becomes the groom’s responsibility to organize for the occasion. This includes a venue, wedding photos, food and drinks for the guests. Majority of the Kamba’s are Christians by religion and so the weddings are usually Christian ceremonies. Unlike Toronto weddings where attendance is by invitation, hundreds of community members, not necessarily invited, attend Kamba weddings.

As opposed to the one-day events popular in Toronto wedding ceremonies, the Kamba weddings take place for an extended period of two weeks. The groom’s side sends gifts to the bride’s family. These include more goats, two cows, a bull and traditional beer for the girl’s father. Her mother is given banana bunches, a goat and a sheep. The groom then slaughters a bull and divides it equally between his father and mother to serve as gratitude for having raised him. He then gathers his age mates who accompany him to the bride’s home to officially pick her up. They take wedding photos to remind them of the ceremonies.

Unlike weddings in Toronto where the couple spends time alone after the ceremony, the Kamba couple will share a house with girls who act as the brides escort for three days after the wedding. They must leave on the fourth day, but only after receiving presents from the groom. They get a chance to view their wedding photos and start their lives together.

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