AFRICAN Traditional Religion has been defined by | O Awolalu as the Indigenous beliefs and practices of the Africans. In the African Traditional Region there Is an idea of marriage . marriage can be defined as a union of two or more people of the opposite sex. It Is believed that marriage in Afncan Traditional Religion Is a communal rather than an individual affair, this ts because the role of relations created affect the whole family and not individuals. However, it can be also argued that marriage in African Traditional Religion Is an individual affair taking the consideration of the definition of marriage Itself. The following essay seeks to discuss the validity of the claim that marriage in African Traditional Religion Is a communal father than an individual affair.
It is prudent to note that there are many forms of marriages, Such as monogamy, polygamy, polyamory, levirate and sororate marriages. Polygamy ls when one man can have (more than a one spouse or wife. Polyamory Is a type of marriage where the man and the woman have more than one partner. According to Chakabva and Dinganl In their book entitled Understanding
Family and Religious Studies 2077 page 106, they stated that polyamory type of marriage Is where spouses are chosen by someone else such as the parents, friends and religious leaders. The levirate Is a form of marriage where the brother of the
deceased man Is obliged to marry fus brother’s widow whereas the sorotate marriage involves the husband engaging in a Sexual relationship with sisters of his wife after the wife is dead or has been proven infertile.
According to Bourdon (7987), people marry into families and thus, Imamage becomes a family affair and hot an affair of two individuals, There are several reasons why marriage Is considered as a family contract and not a contract between two people in the Indigenous religion especially in Shona religion. According to Chakabva and Dingani Understanding Family and Religious Studies Vol 7 20717. “if a son in law or mukuwasha marries, he becomes a mukuwasha for the family and not
for one person, the same Is true of the tezvara and muroora. The nature of relations that are created are created for the family and not for the individuals alone.” Therefore, this Indicates marriage in the African Traditional Religion Is a communal rather than individual affair.
The gin eloping in the Shona religion Is organised by relatives especially in the kutiza mukumbo type of marriage Is organised by the relatives of the boy. This has been further explained by P. Chakabva and W. Dingan/ in the book entitled Understanding
Family and Religious Studies page 108, as they submitted that “She elopes at night and goes to her husband’s home. Elders at the husband’s hore will then send a munyayi who will alert the parents and relatives of the girl” The role Is played by members of the community, hence, this indicates that marriage in African Traditional Religion ts a communal rather than
an individual affair.
The community play a pivotal role during the pre-marital and post-marital rites. In the Shona and Ndebele religions, there are ntes where girls will be educated by the aunt in marital affairs. They are even preparation lessons in matters of sex, marriage procreation and family Ife. In matters of sex, there are many lessons for girls, this Includes being taught that the primary duty of marriage Is procreation and sexual gratification of the husband. Boys are also taught how to behave properly towards
their in-laws, how to acquire wealth Which one would give to the parents Of the girl as part of bnde price or froora and they will be also taught how to look after cattle. This has been further supported by | Mbiti (7997, who submitted that boys are taught what most concerns men. Alf this will lead one to suggest that marriage in Afncan traditional religion Is a communal affair .
here are post-marital ntes that are organised by community members. One of the notable marital rite Is masungiro and kutara. The masungiro nite Is done for the pregnancy of the newly marriage woman. The nite Is symbolic and ntuatstic. The parents Of a gin stays with her until she delivers. At the same time the ntual kutata mwana ts carried out. This ts when the aunties or parents of the husband goes to their in-laws and they will be carrying things such as White clothes, Afncan baskets and
food. There are other rituals which follow, these include naming rites. These rituals are performed as a way of confirming that the newly born baby belongs to their family. Therefore, this indicates that marriage in African Traditional Religion ts a communal affair as evidenced by the role of the community in both pre-marital and post-marital rites.
The community plays a pivotal role In the divorce procedure in African Traditional Religion. There are a number of causes of divorce in African Traditional Region. These causes of divorce includes unfaithfulness, this has led some scholars to conclude that unfaithfulness is the only real cause of divorce in African traditional Religion. The elders are mostly responsible in trying to solve the disputes in the Marriage and it Is also submitted that chief is usually the last solution in the divorce procedure If the village head does hot manage to resolve the issue. One should note that there Is a token of divorce which Is arranged
by the parents or relatives in giving the partner being divorced The token in Shona religion ts called shereni/ gupuro. All this indicates that the Marriage in African Traditional Religion Is a communal affair.
In as much as it can be argued that Marriage in African Traditional Religion ts a communal affair, tt will be a violence on a plain language If one ignores the view that Marriage Is also an individual affair. Considering the definition of the term Marriage Which says Marriage Is 2 union of two or more people of the opposite sex, thus one ts forced to suggests that Marriage Is an Individual rather communal affair.
The major reason for Marriage in African Traditional Religion ts for reproduction and sexual regulation. It Is believed in the African society that partners marry each other for reproduction, so that the family Zrows bigger and the same children assist the parents in farming and domestic chores such as washing plates, cooking and fetching firewood It should be noted that Marriage Is for sexual regulation considering the Ntuals that are performed before the Marriage . During the pre-marital rites Zils are taught on sexual matters, this has been further supported by Chakabva and Dingani on their work concerning pre-marital rites in indigenous religion as they stated that “girls with aunts are taught how to respond to sex with the husband.” Therefore, this indicates that marriage in African Traditional Religion Is also an individual affair.
Basing on the above discussion, it Is Clear that Marriage in African Traditional Religion ts a both communal affair and individual affair. Communal in the sense that because of Marriage relations that are created affect the whole family and not only Individuals, It ts also an individual affair considering the individual benefits, for instance sexual regulation and reproduction. Therefore the claim which says Marriage Is a communal affair rather than individual affair Is less valid.