A traditional wedding, part one: The teka

Making the bride cry tears of sadness because she is leaving her home and becoming part of another family is an integral part to first large segment of a traditional wedding.

The teka follows the kujuma (sleepover), where the bride is introduced to the groom’s family.

At a later sleepover, the groom’s family will decide that it is time for the marriage to begin. Fortunately, brides are now supposed to know of and agree to a teka happening. My future sikoni (sister-in-law) even knows the date of the upcoming teka.

During the teka, the groom’s female family members wake up the bride at 3 a.m., dress her in traditional bride attire (only a long black skirt made of cow hide) and have her carry a spear, and lead her to the sibaya (kraal, location where the cows are kept). The land inside the kraal is sacred because it is the home of the ancestors, and the bride has to be properly introduced with her tears touching the ground.

The female family members throw insults at the bride to make her cry. She has to cry to show that she is sad to be leaving her parental home and afraid of what might happen at her new home.

After she cries, she is thrown out of the kraal and taken to the forest.

At noon, three calls will be made to her from the homestead. After the third call, she is allowed to return.

She makes her way to gogo (grandmother), who counsels her on her role at the homestead and her expectations as a wife. Then a child will be allocated to her, so that she can have someone to do her chores until she has a child of her own. This child needs to be a sibling of the groom, rather than a niece or nephew. The child will be selected by the family, and the groom will be present when the child is presented to the couple.

Then the bride will be covered in red ochre, which happens only on her first marriage. It will be applied to her forehead and upper body and also applied to the body of the child assigned to her.

Next, the bride and groom are required to drink the bile of a goat that is slaughtered for the event.

The final activity of the day for the bride is that the bride must cook that day’s dinner to show that she is taking her new role on the homestead seriously.

Also that night a male member of the family will be given the role of gozolo (groom’s messenger, defined in the dictionary as the master of ceremonies in dowry negotiations). He will deliver the message to the bride’s family that she has been teka-ed and is now a member of a new family. The gozolo will stealthily approach the bride’s family’s homestead and toss the umsasane (a special piece of goat meat) onto the homestead, which signifies that a daughter has been wed. It is important for the gozolo to not be caught. If he is, he will be beaten. When the bride’s family finds the umsasane, they will call the gozolo to return to the homestead so he can explain the wedding.

Once the ceremony ends, the bride and groom are officially married and can never be divorced. A separation can occur, but when the female dies, she will be returned to her husband’s family. A teka marriage certificate can be prepared. If there will be a white wedding (a modern wedding), it will occur next.

The next step of the traditional wedding is the sitsinjana, where the bride price, or lobola, will be discussed.

Commentary on the teka: an important piece to understand is that a bride does not marry only the groom during a teka, but she marries the family. The bride’s responsibilities will be determined by how traditional the family is and the number and combination of people on the homestead.

I collected the information for this post from a session during PST, my tutor, and a sisi on my homestead.

This entry was posted in Africa, Peace Corps, Swaziland, Tradition and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to A traditional wedding, part one: The teka

  1. Wow ! I never knew it was as so much preparation!

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