In most of our traditional African cultures, it was the man who paid dowry and the bride-to-be never took part in raising

  • PublishedNovember 30, 2016









In most of our traditional African cultures, it was the man who paid dowry and the bride-to-be never took part in raising the “goats” needed to “buy her.” It was an affair for the man’s family and his friends. And that’s how it ought to be. Period!

Sometime back my wife asked me for money to contribute towards her friend’s dowry – a woman. I asked her for whom the friend was paying dowry and she explained that it was the husband who was going to pay dowry for her.

I told her it was improper for the lady to raise funds for her own dowry.

Unbeknown to me, that was to be the beginning of my encounter with this modern day kind of dowry payment.

In October, I was invited by a friend for a goat eating aimed at raising money for his dowry payment. Nothing new about that; but I was taken aback when I got to the venue only to find his fiancée at the table where the money was to be counted. She was the treasurer.

Then a few weeks thereafter, a woman called me wanting to know whether her husband had invited me for her dowry payment ceremony. She explained that they heard to invite me. I was blunt and told her thats not her business.

Luckily, she seemed o understand and asked for pardon. We left it at that. And as far as I’m concerned, I know nothing about the said ceremony until her husband mentions it to me.

Well, you could call me old school or backward, but in my book of rules, there is a place for how things ought to be done and by whom. If you ask me, many of the marital problems we are facing today emanate from such matters as dowry payment.

Strictly speaking, it is the man’s responsibility to pay dowry for his wife or fiancée. It is not his friends’ responsibility. If, for instance, I’m the one going to pay dowry, my friends should come in as witnesses.

Their contribution towards the dowry should not be an obligation but a kind gesture – a top-up and not the main contribution.

And my wife, she for whom I’m paying the dowry, should feel the effort I made to pay the same and should never at one point get the feeling that the amount was raised by my friends. She is not being “bought” by and for my friends but by me and for me. In short, a man must never tell his wife how much he has for her dowry – let her know about that when everything has been handed over to her family.

Imagine a situation where you tell your wife that you have Ksh20,000. But then you invite friends who raise Ksh80,000 and so on the material day you pay Ksh100,000. Your wife will forever remember that you paid only Ksh20,000 to her parents.

That it was John, your friend, who paid Ksh30,000 and the rest raised by other friends. She will forever feel that John largely paid her dowry – and feel indebted to him – and her respect for you will suffer a major blow.

Why won’t she, if she makes such an attempt, cheat on you with John? What makes you worthy of her respect than John? And people still wonder how wives end up betraying their husbands with their closest friends!

If you want your wife to really feel proud that you paid her dowry, keep her in the dark about how much you personally have and how much you raised from other sources. She must feel that you are the one who raised all that cash. She should never feel indebted to the tribe or to your friends.

She should never feel the need to write a note of appreciation or thank them personally for “raising money to ‘buy’ me.” No, let her walk with pride among other women believing that it was you who pulled that whole thing off.

So, if you are planning such an event, plan everything else with her but keep her in the dark concerning the finances. And if she offers to chip in something or volunteers to raise money from her friends to boost your wallet, reject the offer. Say you got everything in place.

If you must involve the rest of us, keep her and her female friends out of this. It is none of her business. If she invites her friends, let it be to attend the ceremony as witnesses and not to raise money towards the ceremony and she must never feel obliged to invite your male friends to help with the fundraising. Dowry is not a hospital bill

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