African Weddings

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The Zulu Wedding is in its traditional form very colourful. The bride changes 3 times or more in different colours, showing off her beauty. But nowadays Zulu brides prefer to wear white. The Wedding takes place at church, followed by the groom's home, where the bride changes into traditional dress. This ceremony is traditional and includes Zulu songs and dancing. A cow is slaughtered by the groom's people, in acceptance of the bride and she puts money inside the animal's stomach. Now they are truly married. The bride ends the ceremony with Ukwaba - the giving of blankets to her in-laws. They cover themselves with it and the guests sing, ululate and dance.

The Xhosa Wedding traditionally starts with the Ukutwala which means the groom's family have made a bridal-choice for him and taken her to his family house. Here she will wake up the next morning. This friendly Ukutwala is the beginning of the betrothal process. Now the lobola (dowry) negotiations can start with the bride's people and the amount depend on the bride's desirability, the family's wealth and status plus the benefits of the marriage. The traditional lobola (dowry) amounts to 8 cattle heads. On a specific day at the groom's house, sacrifice will be made to the ancestors for blessing by slaughtering animals, and whoever wishes to join in are welcome. The wedding is a happy occasion, celebrated by the community and lasting days at both the family homes. The end of the occasion is called the Ukucanda ibala, which is the walking together of the couple down the main road. Nowadays they often start in the church formally, with the bride wearing white. The families then host receptions with or without the ukutwala - always creating a surprise factor.

The Ndebele Wedding traditionally started with the parents selecting a suitable wife for their sons. This son must have been to an initiation school and only after return the marriage labola (dowry) could be paid. This amount is based on the bride's desirability and is usually about 8 cattle heads. The labola is paid to the brides parents by the groom and the cost of 8 cows could amount to R28 000. A Bukhazi is performed before marriage where the bride enters a small hut for a whole week and the community's older women teach her about the duties of a wife to her husband and within the village.

Sepedi, Sesotho or Sotho Weddings are also started with lebola (dowry) discussions between the two families and could include the usual cattle, money or any other items. The bride gets dressed on her wedding day in a Dintepa, made from cow's hide and the groom will wear a suit. She has to collect water and wood at the river, for the ceremony after which she joins everyone else at the home of either the bride / groom. While the bride walks towards the house, her grandmother 'clears her way' by sweeping the floor. After the ceremony and congratulations a cow / sheep will get slaughtered and divided to both families. Then music will start and if it's the traditional Kiba music, only the men can dance to it

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