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Early Marriage Tragedy in Maasai Society Foundation (EMTMs)- document from Julius Kipuyo in Tanzania


An article about the contemporary marriage in Africa societies


The founder of EMTMs foundation.

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Marriage is the union, permanent at least by intention, of a man and a women for the purpose of procreation and the rearing of children and mutual assistance. In traditional African society marriage was not merely for the sake of procreation and the rearing of children as some western scholars have tended to emphasize but also included the elements of companionship and mutual assistance between a man and a women. There can be no doubt however, that in tradition African society, stress was laid on procreation and continuation of life as the dominant reason for marriage. Marriage is one of most powerful means of maintaining the cohesion of African society and enforcing that conformity to the kinship system and to the tribal organization without which social life is impossible. Marriage in Africa is essential thing in which every member of the society had to go through. It is a central rite de passage signifying the focus of existence ( mbiti J.S, 1969 ). As in all society, marriage in tradition African society was a process of comprising the important steps of courtship and berotrothal socially approved agreements and finally the ceremonies and the establishment of conjugal relationship rights and obligations. It is often wrongly asserted that marriage in traditional African society was arranged by parents and elders and that the marrying partners did not have significant initiatives in their marriage. The correct situation however, was that, young people do not have many opportunities of courtship even though it was often very discreet an infact initiated on their own relationship with intention to get married. In all cases however, they always sought the approval and consequent involvement of the parents and elders leads to the introduction of bride price.

Bride Price in African Societies
The case bride to the child or girl started in Africa as the exchange of gifts, mainly from side of man to that of the girl. This custom which has been could 'bride price' or bride wealth, was not regarded as the selling or buying of the girl but as an essential element in the establishment of serious and binding marriage in contract. It was in cases where this jest bargaining predominated that the custom of exchanging gifts, usually are livestock, domestic items and food stuff tat outsiders so as the sale of child ( girl ) or daughter by the African parents. In patrilineal African society, bride wealth played a dominant role and seemed to be regarded as compensation for the lose of are family member, in that case the girl bride considered as the essential element in the establishment of marriage contract sealed by the acceptance of these gifts. The marriage contract not only gave the institution of marriage a seriousness and dignity but also signalized the transfer to the husband of the marital rights over his wife and parental rights over any child that will be bone to her.
Following the satisfactory exchange of these gifts coupled with a plenty of negotiations over beer drinking and feasting on meat and other foods. Traditional African societies differs greatly in the handing over the gifts or ceremonies, with some communities observing elaborate wedding ceremonies while others had no special ceremonies but as soon as they got nod that the girl was their for the taking, they only sought strong young men to lurk behind bushes and grab the bride as if by force and shoulder high, took her to the expectant bride groom.wailling protestations not withstanding. In African societies, it was the wedding ceremony that really mattered but, the acceptability of the entire marriage process and adherence to established procedure to the satisfaction of the family and clans concerned.
Advantages of brides
i. it creates some feelings to the given community
ii. it brings mutual respect and dignity and love between the man and the women
iii. it brings two families together
iv. it is the thanks giving to the bride family
v. a compensation for losing a productive and reproductive member of the family
vi. it is the legal document signifying that marriage has taken place and husband legal rights

Effects of brides
i. bring the marital climate that is not conducive to trust and love
ii. diseases infection e.g Sexual transmitted disease
iii. some men will fail to marry
iv. religious values should be undermines

Government actions on child brides
In African society the high percent of them engage the child at their early ages, for example the maasai from both Kenya and Tanzania pay the bride at the age of two or sometimes at the womb of the woman, the same to the khoisan from south Africa, the governments introduced some organization that will try to eradicate this problem, in Tanzania we have TECDEN, Tanzania Early Childhood Education network, we also have SAVE KID, and now the newly EMTMs, these are the non governmental organization, but to the other side of government the ministry of gender is the one which deals with children in Kenya there is CCF, and the internationally there is UNICEF, this work internationally even in Canada.

The old system of marriage have been drastically affected by several forces of changes in recent years and although remnants of the traditional values my still be relatively alive in different groups of our African societies very few have been affected somewhat Christianity and education was at first seen as the factor affecting marriage, but recently some societies are still practicing child bride at high level.

1. V.P.Pelt, Maasai customs in mainland Tanzania, 2012
2. John S.mbiti,African regious and philosophy,London: Heinmann,1969
3. Kenyatta,op. cit.,pp 165-167.

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