Marriage in Maasai culture is one of our most important traditional activities. A man has to be married as soon as he undergoes the circumcision ceremony. A Maasai murran is not able to choose whom he is going to marry. If a murran’s father has a good friend with a daughter, then the fathers will negotiate among themselves and decide on a date to marry off their son and daughter, without consulting them first.
A week before the celebration a meeting is held know in Maasai as “aadung inkishu“, which literally means the splitting of cows. This is where both parties agree on the number of livestock that will be paid by the family of the murran, to that of the daughter. This amount differs from person to person. If it is an arrangement between friends it may be 4 or 5 cows, or it may be as high as 14 or 15. As you can see in the video (filmed by Lion Guardian Koikai), heÂ was joking that he would offer 12 cows for Amy to be his second wife!
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A Maasai murran does not see his bride before the marriage, and in most cases they have never met before the ceremony. Some days before the marriage a murran picks his best man and they travel together to the bride’s boma to pick her up, taking with them the dowry they are paying to the family.
If her boma is far away, they have to count how many days it will take them to walk to the bride’s boma and back to make sure they get back in time for the marriage! The bridegroom and best man must walk all the way there by themselves. Then they will pick up the bride from her boma, and they will walk all the way back to his boma. No members of her family are permitted to attend the marriage ceremony. She is no longer part of their family.
One may wonder why Maasai men have to pay the bride’s family livestock when they marry. This is so that the family will be able to remember their daughter who is no longer part of the family. These livestock will always remind them of her. Does this happen in your culture?