When you are invited to any traditional marriage ceremony in any part of Africa, you would always have a beautiful spectacle, and sometimes drama to behold. In this article, the traditional marriage rites among the Ashanti Tribe in Ghana would be our focus. Join me as we explore the colourful ceremony.
The Ashanti tribe is the largest in Ghana. They are one of the few matrilineal societies in West Africa. Twi is the language of the Ashanti people and one of the most widely spoken languages in Ghana. It is a Ghanaian Akan dialect similar to Fante. They are one of the few tribes in west Africa where their ancestry is traced through the maternal line.
Since marriage in Ghanaian culture is considered the official joining of two families, a large emphasis is placed on getting family permissions and blessings before the wedding.
In the Akan tradition, when a man wants to get married he first has to seek the consent of the female in concerned through secret meetings known as “kasasie.” After that, the man would tell members of his family who, if they consent, would carry out investigations on the girl and her family background.
After this, the family of the guy would make their intentions known to the parents of the lady in question. This is the first step to the marriage rites known as ‘abowmu bodze’ or ‘opon-akyi bo’ (knocking ceremony). According to ghanaweb.com, this usually involves a pot of palm wine or a bottle of schnapps; sometimes some amount of money is added to the drink. If the parents of the lady consents, then the next step is for the father to pay for the marriage expenses of his son. (these days, the sons tend to fund their own bride price)
Before the day set for the wedding the groom is required to send gifts to the bride which include clothing’s and jewelry, trunk box, a mat and a stool.
The Main Event
On the day of the wedding, as it’s done in many African tribes, is a day where the community comes together to celebrate the new family. The groom sends delegates from his house to escort the bride over to his house.
Drinks are poured out before she leaves her home ( a sign of respect) and then if she has any brothers they would ask for a protection fee literaly known as ‘akonta gye sikan.’ This is another payment that has to be paid before the bride can be allowed to leave her parents house. The brides are adorned in minimal jewellery and beads and they tie the kente just like their grooms and adorn their heads with bead or gold.
The groom’s family begins by presenting the dowry and all the other items on the list one, by one. At each stage, the items are checked to make sure everything asked on the list is being presented.
Negotiation is possible if the groom’s family feels too much is being asked of them. The bride is not present in all of these proceedings. The groom, although present, is not required to speak in all of these proceedings as all the speaking and negotiation is done on his behalf by the designated spokesperson from his family.
Bride and Groom’s Appearance
The groom is introduced to the bride’s family after the latter is satisfied that all the items required have been presented. After the groom has been introduced, a member of the bride’s family is asked to go and bring the bride to the gathering. A decoy can be used to “tease” the groom before the actual bride is brought. The groom is then asked to confirm if she is indeed the bride.
Once he confirms, she is asked three times by her father if she agrees to marry the groom. She is asked if they should accept the dowry and accompanying gifts from the groom’s family. Her acceptance is greeted with jubilation, as reported by ghanaculturepolitics.com.
When she agrees, then the groom will slide the ring onto her fingers and kiss and hug her. An elder (or a Pastor) presents a bible to the bride as a symbol of how important God should be in their married life. The groom and bride who are now husband and wife sit together for the rest of the ceremony.
Prayers are said and blessings are given. The married couple is then congratulated and some elders offer marriage advice to the new couple. Once all of this is done there is a huge celebration/reception where food and drinks are served.