Understanding the Kikuyu traditional wedding rites of MP Betty Maina
Murang’a women’s representative Betty Maina is off the market.
This is after the lawmaker’s parents and that of her suitor engaged in dowry negotiations on Friday, April 21, 2023.
The first-time MP is expected to walk down the aisle soon with Mathira MP Eric Wa Mumbi.
The two reportedly fell in love during the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) election campaign last year.
Ms Betty’s home area has since been marked by Mr Wamumbi, also a first-time MP, in a traditional Kikuyu ceremony known as ‘Kùhanda Ithīgí’.
“Eric, you honoured my parents, family, relatives, friends and my community by coming with my newly joined family, friends and relatives from Mathira to perform our induction ceremony, ‘Kùhanda ithīgí’.
“Yes, you have formally enrolled me and I confirm that I belong to you. Thank you to our great leaders and friends who came to offer us love and support in this function. Those who believe in love, celebrate love and believe that love wins,” Betty wrote on her official Facebook page.
Kùhanda ithīgí, involves the suitor’s marking of a woman’s home territory.
The amount of dowry to be paid is negotiated by both sides, as are the procedures to be followed.
The man is accompanied by parents, guardians, older men and women who understand Kikuyu culture, and friends, who then confront the woman’s elders.
In addition to his parents, MP Wamumbi was accompanied by Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga and other county leaders.
The negotiations are based on how a woman’s father offers his daughters for marriage.
In Kikuyu culture, the amount of the dowry is determined by what the grandfather has set (some have a booklet of what a suitor should pay, including cattle).
The animals can be exchanged for money, although some are taken alive to perform rituals.
Surprisingly, the man of the family goes overboard and includes other costs he has incurred in raising his daughter(s), and the mother can claim kitchen appliances that the girl has destroyed.
Mr Wamumbi was given the list of dowry demands and the amount.
“Together with my family and friends, we paid the first visit to Betty N. Maina’s parents and the people of Muran’ga Kùhanda Ithīgì, which means that the girl is officially booked.
Elders from both sides initiated the process and the first steps were completed yesterday. This will be followed by the Rùracio ceremony at a later date,” Wamumbi said on his official Facebook page.
This will be followed by the Rùracio payment – the dowry.
Men who take part in the negotiation process must also be paid (waking from the chair fee).
On the fateful day, the suitor’s representatives have to pacify the woman in order to open the door to her home.
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Convincing songs dominate the atmosphere and the environment, for example “Hodi guku kwa nyina wa Betty…” (Request for access).
Sometimes, if the dowry is too high, the man’s entourage will give up. Remember, he pays for all the expenses of the occasion, from food to drink.
If the lady has a baby girl from a previous marriage or relationship, the suitor will be asked to pay for the child’s ownership, as he will enjoy her dowry when she grows up and marries.
If the two sides agree, the ceremony takes place and the woman is officially handed over to the man.
In Kikuyu country, dowry is not a one-off payment. It can take years, as long as the suitor fulfils the crucial requirements and needs.
What follows is a church wedding, a traditional marriage, a marriage by the Attorney General, or no marriage, as long as the culture is respected.
For Betty and Wamumbi, the next step is to pay the dowry and then, if they choose, get married.
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua had previously promised to mediate but left for Botswana on Friday, April 21, 2023.
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