Circle

Last weekend saw the move from one phase of my moon to another. In completing the first 4 steps (of 5) in the Kikuyu marriage process. I am now the mother of my father-in-law, the worker within my in-law’s homestead and the first wife to my husband. Traditionally.

I never understood why brides cry in that moment when they are handed over to the other family…until I burst into uncontrollable tears. I can’t even explain why it happened. It just did.

So now each morning when I wake up, I think about my husband and the family we will have together. And about the work that is still left undone so that my daughter will carry on the pride of her mothers before, in being an African woman.

Then I remember Saturday, just last Saturday and how religion played a large part in the day. How the ceremony was seen as part of God’s way.

And it seems okay.

In my home as the bride price was being exchanged I thought about the bad publicity that this ceremony gets. And as the items were shared out among my relatives, I remembered the role that this process plays. It is not about greed or commodity exchange but an actual appreciation to the other family for the raising of a woman who will become the ground for the future of the Agikuyu.

Or as I was told, “Ciana nii cia agikuyu. Ti cia muhiriga wa aiicakamuyu, na ti cia muhiriga wa aangari.” The children belong to the Kikuyu (my ethnic group) not to the house of Aiicakamuyu (his clan) or to the house of Aangari (my clan).

The brideprice which will be paid throughout my lifetime will be the link between my mother and her son-in -law. Through it my mother will maintain a relationship with my husband and through it she will know that I am well taken care of. She is to protect him as his father is to protect me, because I am now his (my husband’s father) mother. My first son will be named after my husband’s father.

In it, I see a ceremony that brings a circle to it full circumference.

Which is why I cried.

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7 responses to “Circle

  1. very interesting piece. I was actually talking about the same exact thing – learning the Gikuyu ruracio – with a buddy this morning!! Thx …

  2. very good post. it captures exactly what the meaning of dowry for Agikuyu should be.

  3. very touching post! i don’t know why i think I know the women in your profile pic!

  4. Excellent!

  5. Come now. This is sheer nonsense. This tradition is rooted in the value those societies placed on women. Women were sources of labour, vessels for sexual gratification and conduits for children. U uaself say it, ua officially title is the “worker” in your husbands home.

    If this tradition is not lacking in gender bias why do we then not switch it around once in awhile and have a groom price paid? Why dont we have a group of women sit in the corner and haggle over a sum (“that does not amount to a purchase price, we value our men over any amount of goats”) for ua groom to be?

    Is there anything worse than a woman in love? Yeah thats right, a woman in the centre of attention. Suddenly, she will rationalise just about anything.

    Very disappointed to read this blog from a Sistah,
    W.

  6. The full circle of life. Beautiful post! I just discovered your blog. I’m Mugikuyu too, but I never did know about the 5 steps of the Gikuyu marriage process. Hope we’ll get to learn more. Thaai!

  7. Beautiful and touching post on the modern! sentiment behind dowry

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