Part two on the series about the Iteso culture. All the information here is got from either Google or personal inquiries with people well vast with the culture. The information is ofcourse disputable. Feel free to make additions or subtractions after you read. Enjoy your read!.
In the past, Iteso marriages used to happen in two ways. Its worth mentioning that the Iteso totally detested cohabiting in the past. Therefore for two people to live together as husband and wife, they had to be married. One way the Iteso used to get married was where the boy would approach the girl and declare his interest in her. If the girl had interest in him too, she would go and tell her mother about it. Her mother would then tell the father about it. The girl’s father would then invite the boy’s father to his house to ask him about the intentions of his son. The father of the boy would then make his son’s intentions clear to the girl’s father. Before the girl’s father would give his consent, the girl in question would be called and asked whether she knew about the boy’s intentions to marry her and whether she consented to it. If she responded in the affirmative, her father gave his consent too. An arrangement would then be made for the boy’s family to come together with their son to negotiate about the bride price so that they could get an idea of what they needed to bring. This whole process of negotiation is called Abilakin. During this whole Abilakin process, if the boy’s family would not be able to avail all the bride price suggested, the wedding would still hold but the boy’s family would be in debt to the girl’s family and a particular date would be set for the bride price to be completed. It was on very rare occassions that a wedding failed to hold because of inadequate bride price.
After the negotiations, the boy’s family would be given a specific period of time to get the bride wealth. The girl’s family would then go and inspect the bride wealth especially the cows(cows are the most important aspect of Iteso bride price) and then a date would be set for the marriage. This process of inspecting the bride price is known as Aitodiar
The marriage was usually a day of celebration and merry making. The celebrations would go on until the next day when people would go to their different destinations. I shouldnot forget to mention that Ajono(local brew) is always in abundance.
The newly wed girl would then be prepared to go to her husband’s house. She would be accompanied by an entourage usually consisting of her sisters who would help her settle into her marital home. They are reffered to as Imugolen. These Imugolen would stay with the newly weds for about a month or so and then would leave.
The other way of getting married was through the arranged marriages. In this case, the parents of the two people in question would agree that their children will get married. Usually, the parents are very good friends and in most circumstances this agreement is made when the boy and the girl are very young and they grow up knowing they are betrothed to one another. In most circumstances, such people would get married to eachother. In some cases however, the parents make that agreement when the boy and girl have already grown up and have developed interest in other people. This brings about problems in the marriage. In my opinion it encouraged polygamy as the boy would marry the girl his parents chose out of respect and then go ahead to marry one of his own choice.
This is how the Iteso used to get married in the past. It still happens today especially among the traditional Iteso. So however much i used the past tense, its still in application today.
What should be noted is that in the past, among the Iteso, the aspect of relationship between the inlaws was extremly important. They always made sure they had very strong ties with the inlaws. Today, this aspect is slowly fading because of the neo colonialism we find ourselves in (totally my opinion).
Iteso traditional marriages today are alittle different depending on the people getting married because various people have lived in different societies and therefore they have adopted various other cultures along the way. So traditional marriages are nolonger done by the book as it was in the past. Some people opt not to have it at all. Others choose to make them less traditional. The emergence of Women emancipation is also slowly wiping out the bride price bit from traditional marriages.
However the typical traditional marriage today would still involve the negotiation bit as it was in the past. The parents of the boy together with their son and a few friends of his go to the girl’s parents home for a formal visit where they would do the negotiations on the bride price.
A date for the traditional marriage would then be fixed which usually takes place at the girl’s parents’ home.
On the day of the traditional marriage, before the groom and his kinsmen are allowed into the home, the dowry (especially the cows) is inspected. If the cows, do not add up to the number they wanted, depending on the family being married from, the inlaws are asked for the monetary equivalent or they are given a date on which to pay them or the marriage is temporarily postponed till further notice. (Ok. I know this last one sounds extreme but it happens). One of my high school teachers told us how his friend’s traditional marriage Couldnt hold because they brought two cows less and they had run broke so they Couldnt give the monetary equivalent and the inlaws couldnt hear nothing about paying later.
Anyway when all is settled, the groom and his kinsmen are let in and the party begins. Girls and women of different age groups are presented before the inlaws for the groom to tell whether the bride is among them or not. The group of girls usually dance for the inlaws and then kneel on a mat before the them. If the bride is not among them, the ladies are given gifts and sent back as others come, until the bride comes and then the rest is histrory. Ofcourse Ajono is part of this function too and yes, people still do party till the next day.
so that is how my people(felt good saying that) get married..
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