ZimNaija Traditional wedding… What is a “tradiversary?”

A “tradiversary” is the anniversary of your traditional marriage – if you have one. 

You might have seen this hashtag trending on the gram for some time & finally I have been able to put it to use. 

A year ago, I got traditionally married and its crazy to think how completely different the world looked like then. This time last year I was surrounded by all my loved ones, from near & far. All crowded in my mother’s home for the pending negotiations that were to take place. 

Now in the world of #CoronaGate… what will such traditions look like?

Okay, so some context for you all. I’m from Zimbabwe and my husband is from Nigeria. Two African cultures from the South & West, who both have their own versions a traditional marriage ceremony. In the western world, a traditional wedding is like a Pro Level of engagement shall we say and is the step before the “proper” wedding day – the one where you wear the white dress. 

In the Zimbabwean/Southern African culture the traditional wedding goes by the name ‘roora/lobola’ (most commonly used but sure there is more). I won’t go into detail trying to explain it but basically it is when the guy goes to the girl’s house to confess his love in front of her whole family. And unlike the movies, the girl isn’t the one leading this meeting. She doesn’t meet him outside and hold his hand into the house, so he feels a bit more comfortable. The guy comes with his brothers or uncles to meet the girl’s father & uncles and tells them his intention to marry said girl. This intention is shown 1. by the gathering of the families and 2. by the giving of gifts and tokens, groceries, clothing and most importantly money. It’s generally quite an intimate process and very important to show the respect to the girl’s family. 

In the Nigerian culture, the process in principle is pretty similar. But, the importance of this ceremony is slightly greater. The traditional wedding is a grand event, where the two families are coming together, everyone dresses up and it’s a real sea of beauty in colours, fabric and culture. Commonly known as ‘asoebi’ – you should look it up. In my husband’s culture the traditional is THE day and it’s kind of a go big or go home type affair. 

So how did we combine the two for the sake of our wedding? Well, like everything we’ve had to do in our relationship being from two cultures. A pinch from here, a dash from here until it blends into a perfect compromise. 

Growing up as a Zimbabwean woman I knew the importance of the traditional wedding but only truly valued it once I was much older and on the road to marriage myself. There are countless debates on how outdated the process is, how exploitative it can be etc but the core of it when everything else is stripped away is beautiful. An engagement ring is one thing – and I love mine, don’t get me wrong! But our traditional wedding taught me many things about myself, my husband and my family AND the family I was marrying into. All these things combined created a great foundation for our household and forced us to understand our cultures even more. The reality as I have found it of an intercultural marriage is that, to be honest the culture aspect doesn’t really matter to us. A lot of our relationship is spent just my husband & I. So, we do things how we like or think we should do them. The culture part doesn’t come into play all too often but our traditional wedding unified our differences and also helped our families know how to guide us through starting our own home.  

And for many people who have gone through this process, there is a real shift in dynamics after your traditional wedding. In your family’s eyes, you’re now a wife or a husband. You have chosen to take the step forward bolding and they will treat you accordingly. Our wedding day was 5 months after our traditional wedding but my name and status in this world changed that day when my husband accompanied by his brothers and uncles left my mother’s house. 

To all the babes in intercultural relationships, and I know there is a lot of us. Have you had your traditional wedding yet? Are you excited about it? Are you opposed to the idea altogether and skipping it? I’d love to know! Some days I wonder, if I had a daughter do I want her to have a traditional wedding too and since she would be a ZimNaija (=Zimbabwean & Nigerian) mix, what would tradition look like for her? 

Let’s cross that bridge when we get there, shall we!

One day with two traditions, needs two outfits for each side

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