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Ovaherero Wedding Proceeding

Ovaherero Wedding Proceeding


This momentous event is preceded by so many activities starting from 6 – 10 months before the actual weekend. Yes, this event takes place for three days on end. It starts Friday and lasts for Saturday and Sunday. The bride is already at home the Monday, carefully covered and being oriented to enjoy her homestead for a very last time. It will be very hard for her to come back here again unless the elders of the groom’s permission is solicited in good time.


Many homesteads allow the groom to come clean the area from which they will wait for the bride and usually that is at the back of the main homestead. In this sense of the word, cleaning means confirmation that the groom’s relatives as well as the groom will come to wait for the handing over of the bride for 3 days starting Friday. That also means that they will come to set up camp (as it is known these days) and also gives them enough time to prepare the details in case there are numerous grooms looking for brides from the same homestead. Once that is confirmed the owners of the homestead will hit the final nail in the coffin which will include officially starting the celebrations.


On this day each and every one arrived. Remember the bride is already home since Sunday. The groom just arrived the Thursday. The invited guests for both the bride and the groom have also arrive on the Friday. The camp at the back side of the homestead is erected by the relatives of the groom and ready to the start festivities. Those at the back of the homestead are very mellow in the behavior. Since they came to back for the hand of the bride they are required to behave to the fullest else, consequences will be heavier. That will include and not limited to the refusal of the bride on Sunday, the last day of the wedding ceremony. That is an extreme measure. The Friday is the biggest of the two days because it includes too many important activities. The team of the groom brings Ovitunja (lobola) and that is two heifers and an ox. In the absence of an ox the groom will bring an equivalent in monetary value in the market around that time. Usually it is not an excessive amount of money and it is also not a price for the bride since this tradition does not sell people. Around 17h00 all the important people in their family ranks from the groom side will go to the kraal at the bride’s home. They will bring the gift in the forms mentioned earlier including money in the absence of an ox. The relatives of the bride usually the paternal side if her parents were not married receive these gifts. The cows are also brought to the kraal at which traditional performances take place in a form of the groom’s relatives praising their gift in the form of the ox. The bride’s relative’s critic the ox and some even refuse to accept it since it is either not dehorned or it has long horns or the color is not in tune with their ritualistic nobles.

If the cows and the ox are accepted by the family of the bride and finally entered the kraal it means the first hurdle is over. Now, the invited guests are going to have fun all night with singing traditional songs and drinking and eating. What is the use of being at a wedding where there is no drinking and eating?

The same night, the groom will go to his bride and meet her once more until as early as 04h00 AM. This traditional ceremony is for the purposes of granting permission to the groom for him to note that he is accepted in this homestead. Many people have interpreted it differently and it has got too many casual meanings. The groom is accompanied by his circumcision peers. These people are critical to the ceremony for they are completely necessary and also helpful in executing the rituals required by tradition. The groom is back and remember festivities started very mellow the Friday at the back of the homestead and the guests have been having fun thus, there is a likelihood that some are not asleep this is why he comes back that early. His circumcision peers will go get him that early and deliver him to his omuramue – cousin. She is the person who is very helpful with grooming him in the absence of the bride until they are re-united the Sunday and going forward.


This day is loaded with too many activities starting with slaughtering of cows both in front and at the back of the homestead. The groom slaughter for consumption but there is a particular part of the slaughtered cow that goes to the bride side and they bring that same part called (_) to the back of the homestead. It is on this day that they share gifts from both sides as well and by 14h00 to 15h00 the event is elevated to celebrations in front of the homestead. They both had invited singers who dance the bride then does rituals in between the houses and the kraal where everyone from both sides will gather. Now mind you, the two families of the bride and groom have met officially through the dance and song happening till 17h00 or so. After that each of the families retreats back to front and back of the homestead until 20h00 or so for the next round of the singing and dancing session. Remember the wedding started with an amount of plastic hostilities towards the family of the groom which is staged because the male cousins of the bride are not happy with the idea of her going so that are acting hard to let go. After the ritual events from 14h00 to 17h00 the two families can intermingle and chit chat. They can great each other and send regards back home since usually these people used to marry people who are known to each other or who are extendedly related e.g. matrimonially and patrimonial or matching totems or even children from a brother and sister. Since the totem do not match it is allowed thus there is a lot for them to catch up about since they are either from the same previous high schools, churches, soccer and netball clubs, etc. There will be singing all night and even those who do hymns will join in and sing through the early hours of the Sunday morning.


This is the last day of the wedding and trust me by now everyone is very tired and can’t wait to go back home. Sunday program ends as early as 11h00 latest. Deducing from events last night activities it goes without saying that the bride is going with groom because the events last night went very well. The family from the back of the homestead behaved very well thus the bride’s family and her seniors will hand her over. The groom and everyone at the back of the homestead are getting very ready and dressing to kill in recent times. They are derigging the tents and everything else that was brought there since Thursday. They are ready to be told to come to the side of the bride. Once there, the seniors or the elders of the bride and groom are the critical people here. The elders of the bride will hand over their daughter but not just like that. The elders of the groom must hear them. Usually she is handed over to some assurance that he is going to be very responsible with her. This session that stipulates his assurance lasts about for about an hour or so. The elders of the groom also assure their counterparts that she will be taken care off very well and the groom knows where he stands with his elders thus he knows his place around her. This is the shorter day but the most important day since they have achieved the objective – to get the bride.

From there on all are going to their destinations but the bride and groom will go his father’s homestead. At this place ritually she will be welcomed at her new homestead and join the clan ritually. She will relinquish so much of her maternal identity also.  At times she will have to get his surname. She will have to get his patrimonial oruzo and also officially gain his birth place praises (mukaa katjikuatjike). That is on a second Monday already. The new family unties will take her to the kraal which is done to test her abilities to milk cows and also identify one that will be hers going forward. A sheep will have been already slaughtered the Monday morning. This signifies the arrival of someone new and also they will take her to the Holy Fire place where she will be announced to the ancestors as such. They should protect her as their own and new here and also for their information only. Wednesday they will go back where the bride came from for another ritual activity which will mean that the wedding is officially over thus this newlywed couple can go start a life of their own.

Contributed by : Ms Undamuje Hambira

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