Most people marrying in Africa will include their heritage within it, including lots of different and strange traditions, and wearing beautiful wedding dresses that are bright and colourful. Generally the marriage is not between the bride and groom but is a bonding of two families, and marriage in Africa is taken very seriously indeed. Here are some traditions that you may or may not have heard of and why they are done during African wedding ceremonies.
Tying The Knot – In some African tribes it is tradition for the bride and groom to have their hands tied together with cloth and some braided glass, which is to represent their unity. It is more common now for couples to have a close friend or family member to do the tying of the knot as the vows are being spoken.
Jumping The Broom – This is one of the better known traditions which originates, supposedly, from the slave trade where slaves were forbidden to get married, so instead made a public declaration of love by jumping over a broom to the beat of drums. It is a symbol of them making a home for themselves, and has been a tradition for hundreds of years. These days the brooms are hand crafted and have patterns of pictures neatly carved into them, and the event happens at the very end of the ceremony. People like to take the broom home and hang it or have it framed to show others.
Liberation Ceremony – A ceremony that is the same as normal but is geared towards ancestry and relatives that have been and passed on. Couples will pour alcohol or holy water onto the ground as prayers which are supposedly to reach the spirits of their loves ones. It is to honour past family members as much as it is a union on the couples loves for one another.
Koala Nuts – Steady on, it’s not what you think it is. These nuts are essential to any African wedding. They are a symbol of healing and the ceremony, in Nigeria at least, is not finished until a nut is shared between the couple and their parents. Just like with the broom couples they like to keep the nut as a sort of showcase to other people, and as a reminder of their vows and their love for each another.
Bright Wedding Attire – Not followed by all but by most, African women wear brightly coloured and patterned clothing to represent what area they come from, and most have Adinkra symbols stitched into them as a show of tradition and ancestry. The symbols represent different ideas among the people, and all have their own meanings. For example, the love heart symbol represents patience and tolerance within the relationship.
Cowrie Shells – Much like a symbol, these indigenous shells represent fertility and prosperity and are round in shape with a teeth-like opening. They can be used in any part of the ceremony such as decoration on a dress, used as serving bowls for food or just sat on tables as centre pieces.