I was seated at the shores of the beautiful Lake Victoria, in Uganda, with magnificent scenery and a cool breeze sweeping though, cooling down my sun heated body. The sun shines hot at the horizon, and I am wondering what the world will bring next to my country: new cultures, new traditions, new ideas
The newest seems to be homosexuality. In my culture it is a serious taboo to have a sexual relationship with a fellow man. It would be seen as a curse to society. But as things have changed, now people talk about equal rights and protection for homosexual men. At the same time, there is talk about what could have happened for them to be this way. A friend of mine even suggested that homosexuality could be another deadly disease, like HIV/AIDS. There will be a cure, he insisted.
At the same time, I look at the traditional marriage practices of the tribes of my own country. And compared to much of the world, these practices that are so normal to us, may be as odd as is homosexuality.
The Baganda tribe in the central Uganda practices the tradition of arranged marriages, with a requirement for the bride to be a virgin. The marriage and the bride price hangs on the proof of her virginity, which is proved by blood stained white sheets. The brides aunt, who has instructed the young woman in the act of love, stays under the marriage bed until the act is completed, and will actually coach the young man if he is experiencing difficulty. Once the proof is on the sheets, the aunt tells both sets of parents, and a bride price is arranged with a special goat given for her purity. If the bride is not a virgin, the marriage is voided, and the bride returned to her family in shame to become an outcast.
The Karimojong Warrior tribe, who live in the north-east region, is a culture where there is no courtship. Sex before marriage would result in both parties being speared to death where they are found. But in order to select a suitable bride, a boy has to identify the girl of his choice and find a place to lay in wait for her. Usually this would be on the way the girl would go to fetch water every day. Once he made his intentions clear, the two would wrestle. If the girl wins, she walks away, but if the boy wins, he takes her to his village. Her parents will come to claim a bride price from the boys family but if the potential offer is too small, they have the options of taking their daughter back. Once the bride price is deemed acceptable, the father of the bride will be given a stick and taken to the kraal. He will throw the stick amongst the cattle, and the portion that runs towards the side where the father is standing, divided by the lay of the stick, will be the bride price.
In north and northwestern Uganda, the Luo, which includes the Acholi, Alur, Langi, and Lugabara tribes, have a somewhat similar system. Although courtship is allowed, premarital sex is not. The bride price is set by the girls family, with extra requested for a particularly beautiful girl or for a boy who is not considered handsome enough for their daughter. Additional payments are also made for the couples new home and for blessings for having children.
Although the customs of my tribal country may seem strange to some of you, the customs of the rest of the world seem very odd to us too.
I guess its all what youre used to.