The unfamiliar/foreign activity that I have attended was a Zulu Traditional Wedding called Umabo. Umabo usually takes place after the white wedding.
Where did the wedding take place?
The Zulu traditional wedding always takes place at the family home of the groom. The White wedding service took place at the Church.
Why does Umabo take place?
Umabo is a very important tradition. One is not fully married in the Zulu culture if they did not carry out the ritual of Umabo. Some people may be faced with difficulties in their marriages (failure to conceive or may not have good relations with the in-laws) and it may be discovered that the ancestors are not happy as Umabo was not done and they don’t recognize their daughter in-law. Couples who experience this will sometimes have to go through the process of Umabo years after they first got together as a way of appeasing the ancestors. It is only through Umabo that the ancestors will recognize the union.
What specific activities take place?
• Lobola – an African practice that involves providing payment, either in cash or heads of cattle, from the groom’s family to the bride’s family. It is a token of appreciation and respect to the parents of the bride and a way of building relations between the two families.
• Umncamo – A ceremony in which the bride’s father buys a goat. The goat will be slaughtered after the head of the family has spoken to the ancestors telling them that his daughter will be getting married and that he wants the ancestors to protect her.
• Zulu Ritual (Slaughter) – The groom’s family will buy 2 cows to slaughter on the wedding day and a goat to slaughter to welcome the bride.
• Sorghum beer – Food and a special Zulu beer is prepared for the wedding day.
How does the Zulu traditional wedding work?
1. On the morning of the wedding day, the bride leaves early towards the groom’s residence.
• The bride’s mother will give her daughter a blanket that she will use to cover her body when she is leaving. The bride is not allowed to look back as she heads towards the groom’s home so as not to invite bad luck.
2. On arrival at the groom’s house the bride must walk around the house so as to be introduced to her husband’s ancestors, before entering the home through the kitchen while nobody is noticing her.
• The groom’s family will pay a penalty for not being aware of the bride.
3. The wedding ceremony starts around midday. Cows bought by the groom are slaughtered and eaten on the day and a goat is slaughtered after the head of the family has spoken.
4. While gifts and money are given to the bride’s family prior to the wedding ceremony, on the day of Umabo, it is the turn of the bride to give the groom’s family gifts.
• This exchange symbolises the forming of a new bond between the two families. Singing and dancing by the bride’s family as a form of appreciation. Older women are called to dance and sing followed by the groom’s sisters and then the men and lastly the groom.
My observations and Impressions
The Zulu Traditional Wedding called Umabo seems to be very important to the Zulu community. I admire the high regard of respect towards their ancestors. The many stages of Umabo is really interesting such as Lobola and Umncamo. The amazing aspect about this wedding is the bond that it creates not only between the couple but between the two families. This ritual allows the families to form a union which I feel is important in a marriage, especially for it to be successful. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the Zulu Culture and the importance of Umabo.