Real weddings

The Ndebele traditional wedding ceremony

The marriage ceremony in the Ndebele tradition is considered very important. It’s not just about two people being joined together but also an event that signifies the beginning of a relationship between two families. Ntombizodwa Mzila Hlatshwayo and Mqondisi Nyoni had their Ndebele traditional ceremony, themed ‘Ndebele with a modern twist’, on the 17th of March.

First, Mqondisi’s uncles went to Ntombizodwa’s home to pay off the lobola (dowry). They also brought with them gifts and groceries for the bride’s parents. The day after the payment of lobola was the wedding day.

The Ndebele culture requires that there be a slaughtering of an animal as the groom is introduced to the ancestors. The slaughtering of the cow is a way of recognizing their ancestors. So a cow was slaughtered as Mqondisi was introduced to Ntombizodwa’s ancestors and as per tradition, her aunt prepared ‘Utshwala besintu’.

The following day, Ntombizodwa, in the company of her aunts and sisters went to Mqondisi’s family home where almost the same procedure was done. Ntombizodwa was now being introduced to the Nyoni family. The Nyoni family slaughtered a goat as required by tradition. The bile was then made into a necklace that the aunt took back to Ntombizodwa’s father as a sign that their child had been well received into the Nyoni family and had been introduced to their ancestors.

The Ndebele have their distinctive clothing which is characterized by colors, patterns, and textures (fur and hide). Since Ntombizodwa and Mqondisi had chosen to modernize their attires, they chose color and pattern which were paired with modern fabric. What was interesting and validating to the couple was that, after the ceremony, they took a walk to the city center, Bulawayo, still dressed in their attires. An old man approached them and told them he admired how they were proud of their culture and passerby’s whistled as a lot of cars honked at them. It made them feel special.

Having a modern wedding is not a must. Ntombizodwa and Mqondisi were satisfied with their traditional wedding and if they re to have a modern wedding, it would be maybe four years from now.

As for advice to future brides, Ntombizodwa says: “Do not overthink things, try to do as much as you can yourself instead of just showing up for the wedding.”

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