Love, Courtship and Marriage in African Traditional Heritage

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The Moroccan marriage celebration includes several ceremonies that can last between three days to a week.

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After an agreement by witnesses and the Adoul Notary , gifts such as jewelry and shoes are exchanged. Two days before the wedding, the bride goes to the Hamam, a traditional sauna. This is regarded as an act of purification. This is then followed by the Hennaya, where the bride and friends receive symbolic motifs as a lucky charm. The wedding day is characterized by recitals of Quranic verses, white caftans, matching jewelry, food, dance and, of course, music. This special garment gets be worn by all the married women during the wedding ceremony, and it represents a mother being surrounded by children.

On the wedding day, the groom will then perform a ceremony in honor of his wife, giving her credit for all she has done in their time together. This is usually characterized by recitals, dance, and prayers. Among the Amhara people of Ethiopia, most marriages are negotiated by the two families with a civil ceremony sealing the contract.

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On the wedding day, Invited guests arrive at the venue; mostly a decorated auditorium or hall. Traditional food and drinks will then be served. Each scene of a story is depicted with two characters at a time, so the audience does not get overwhelmed. In each story, victims are able to overcome their predators and take justice out on the culprit.

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Certain tools were used in African folktales. For example, idiophones, such as drums, were used to make the sounds of different animals. Repetition and call-back techniques in the form of prose or poem were also used to get the audience involved in the stories. Women's traditional clothes in Ethiopia are made from cloth called shemma and are used to make habesha kemis. Sometimes shiny threads are woven into the fabric for an elegant effect.

Men wear pants and a knee-length shirt with a white collar , and perhaps a sweater. Men often wear knee-high socks, while women might not wear socks at all. Men as well as women wear shawls, the netela. Zulus wear a variety of attire, both traditional for ceremonial or culturally celebratory occasions, and modern westernised clothing for everyday use. Traditional male clothing is usually light, consisting of a two-part apron similar to a loincloth used to cover the genitals and buttocks.

In the Muslim parts of Africa, daily attire also often reflects Islamic tradition. The various cuisines of Africa use a combination of locally available fruits , cereal grains and vegetables , as well as milk and meat products. In some parts of the continent, the traditional diet features a preponderance of milk, curd and whey products.

In much of tropical Africa, however, cow's milk is rare and cannot be produced locally owing to various diseases that affect livestock. The continent's diverse demographic makeup is reflected in the many different eating and drinking habits, dishes, and preparation techniques of its manifold populations.


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In Central Africa , the basic ingredients are plantains and cassava. Fufu -like starchy foods usually made from fermented cassava roots are served with grilled meat and sauces. A variety of local ingredients are used while preparing other dishes like spinach stew, cooked with tomato, peppers, chillis, onions, and peanut butter.

Cassava plants are also consumed as cooked greens. Groundnut peanut stew is also prepared, containing chicken , okra , ginger , and other spices. Another favorite is Bambara, a porridge of rice, peanut butter, and sugar.

Beef and chicken are favorite meat dishes, but game meat preparations containing crocodile , monkey , antelope and warthog are also served occasionally. The cuisine of the African Great Lakes region varies from area to area. In the inland savannah, the traditional cuisine of cattle-keeping peoples is distinctive in that meat products are generally absent. Cattle , sheep and goats were regarded as a form of currency and a store of wealth, and are not generally consumed as food.

In some areas, traditional peoples consume the milk and blood of cattle, but rarely the meat.

Elsewhere, other peoples are farmers who grow a variety of grains and vegetables. Maize corn is the basis of ugali , the East African version of West Africa's fufu. Ugali is a starch dish eaten with meats or stews. In Uganda , steamed, green bananas called matoke provide the starch filler of many meals. In the Horn of Africa , the main traditional dishes in Ethiopian cuisine and Eritrean cuisine are tsebhis stews served with injera [14] flatbread made from teff , [14] wheat , or sorghum , and hilbet paste made from legumes , mainly lentil , faba beans.

Eritrean and Ethiopian cuisine especially in the northern half are very similar, given the shared history of the two countries. The related Somali cuisine consists of an exotic fusion of diverse culinary influences. Each day for a series of wedding days there is a special event. Usually that will be all. Clay, ash, feathers, sandals and a necklace are considered ample dress for any occasion.

The bride wears the beaded apron and half skirt of the unmarried girl. Marriage is a key moment that follows immediately after initiation among many peoples because both events serve to break the bonds of the individual with childhood and the unmarried state, and to reintegrate the individual into the adult community. Each of the lids is carved with images that illustrate proverbs about relations between husband and wife. She can make her complaints public by using such a lid when her husband brings his friends home for dinner. Although these weddings take place in the same country, difference provinces have different ways of approaching the marriage ceremony.

The common thread is the closeness of the bridal family to achieve the goal of a wedding and lasting relationship. Marriage payments are to the family of the bride rather than to the brides parents.

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It is taboo if a woman seeks out a man for marriage. He proposes and gives her an engagement token called Insalamu. This is either beads or money to show his commitment. It also shows that the girl has agreed to be married. His parents then approve or disapprove his choice.

Should they reject his choice, he starts to look again. If they agree, then the marriage procedure begins. Once he has selected someone, the two agree to marry and tell their respective relatives. She would search for an initiated girl known locally as ichisungu or moye. An uninitiated girl was not for marriage until she reached puberty or initiation age. The mother of the man visited neighboring villages looking for the right unmarried initiated girl. The young girl is not consulted with at all.

On her first trip to his house she did not talk to him or enter his house without small presents being given to him. She would then speak to him and do a lot of housework for him. She would do what she thought was good for her future husband. This period of courtship was known as ukwisha. The groom had to build his own house in the village where he was living, or in the village of his parents-in-law. The girl, after receiving the Insalamu, takes it to her grandmother.

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This is the official way her family is informed. Her grandmother informs her parents and the family. They either accept or reject the proposal. When he visits, he traditionally will take a manufactured hoe, wrapped in cloth with a handle. The hoe is a symbol for the earth, for cultivation, for fertilization. He carries white beads and small amount of money. The beads and money are put in a small plate covered with another small plate of equal size.