Tying the Knot the African Way

At Riah Events we love cultural weddings so much that we want to share with you a few romantic details from the most culturally diverse place on earth. Africa has no less than 54 countries and over 3000 ethnic groups. Even today, it’s rich and ancient traditions are still happily coupled with the inhabitants’ way of life! Tying the knot the African is a passionate fusion of music, colour and beauty and we’re shining the spotlight on two of Africa’s ancient ethnic groups.

Hausa Weddings

With over 40 million people, the Hausa ethnic group is the most populous in Africa. The Hausa largely reside in Northern Nigeria and Niger, but also embellish pockets of Ghana, Chad, and other countries. Largely steeped in Islamic tradition, Hausa nuptials are usually a week-long arrangement of smaller ceremonies, and at Riah Events we couldn’t help but share the elaborate details of this festive week! The preparation of gifts (Kayan Zance) from the groom’s family to the bride’s kicks everything off followed by the customary rights enacted in cultural marital splendour. The Kayan Zance precedes the religious ceremony, or the Daurin Aure as its commonly referred to in Hausa. This is definitely a significant event amidst the week-long celebrations. In this religious ceremony, the male representatives of both families are invited to exchange vows on behalf of the lovebirds, and prayers are offered for the couple’s union.

In the Kamun Amariya, an ancient but cherished tradition and a dramatised display of the groom’s love for his wife, he sends his family to negotiate with the bride’s family for her release to him. This is a playful event which can involve the parting with a lot of cash! The Sa Lalle which comes next is a strictly all female affair. It’s time to get pampered! The bride spends time with her girlfriends and female relatives, and in this heart-warming ceremony, the lady of honour is adorned with henna and perfumes whilst the older women give her advice. Just imagine an elaborate bridal shower with sweet fragrances and sacred body art! Lastly, the Kai Amariya, where the bride is escorted to her husband’s home by her family is the crowning event to bring this magical week of festivities to an end, that’s if the families do not decide to throw another reception (because you can never have too many parties right?) but this is optional. The Hausa wedding is a family affair and sports an enviable love for tradition!

Yoruba Weddings

Dispersed across the southwestern basin of Nigeria, and parts of Benin, the Yoruba ethnic group is a population of vibrant people and this pageantry splendidly plays itself out on the day of the traditional wedding. The prerequisite is the formal introduction of families, followed by the grand occasion! A far cry from the formalities of the white wedding, this fun ceremony is about the coming together of two families. The ceremony plays itself out like rehearsed drama to a crowd of family, friends and well-wishers. The Yoruba traditional wedding, officiated by the Alaga Ijoko (an MC assigned to speak on behalf of the bride’s family) and the Alaga Idoru (the groom’s MC) are the gatekeepers of wedding tradition and back and forth banter to negotiate the bride price and add some joviality to the occasion.

During the ceremony, several steps are taken before the couple’s union is solidified. Sacred traditions including the reading of proposal by the groom’s family, the iconic prostration by the groom and his friends before his in-laws, the giving of gifts from the groom’s family to the bride’s all form a part of the day. Traditionally this includes items such as tubers of yam, kola nuts and alligator pepper! The blushing bride, normally enrobed in luxurious lace and jewellery and crowned with gélé has her ring placed on her finger by her groom. After all, what is a wedding without a ring? After the ‘serious’ part is over and done with it is the time to cut the cake, eat, drink and party until the early hours. The couple can decide to hold a court wedding or religious ceremony at a later date.

There are over 300,000 Nigerians and Brits of Nigerian descent living in the UK, and the wonderful thing about culture is how beautifully it can be adapted to its new surroundings, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself invited to a traditional wedding! We’ve been able to bring to you the fun and flair of two ethnic groups, but the truth is there are so many others! Traditional weddings might be a flamboyant display of Africa’s diversity, but who says the fun can’t be had in the UK? If you are thinking of tying the knot the African way, then Riah Events are here for you. We are happy to help you with everything from planning to managing the day. Whether you’d like to simply add a cultural twist to your special occasion or go all out, Riah Events can cater to your taste.