Engagement and weddings in Rabai are the responsibility of the aunties and uncles. Once the boy attain the age of getting married, the auntie is sent to look for and identify a suitable girl around the village. The auntie of the boy will then go round the village to look for a girl with specific qualities according to Rabai’s customs and traditions.
Feedback on the girl, the girl’s family and clan will be brought back by the auntie, and if the information is satisfactory, the boy’s auntie will be send back for the negotiation with the girls family.
Visiting date (Kuwekambara):
The boy sends his uncle to fix a date for negotiation (Kuwekambara). The uncle will fix a date with the girl’s family then feedback on the same will be passed to his family.
The negotiation and discussion is usually done between the aunties and the girl’s family.The aunties visit the girl home on this first day but no negotiation takes place. On this first visit the aunties will give a date for the commencement of negotiations to the girl’s family.
Negotiation and Discussion during Engagement:
Once the date is fixed for negotiation and discussion, the boy’s family sends two men and women (aunties and uncles) to negotiate with the girl’s family.
At the home of the bride to be, the visitors are warmly welcomed. The bridegroom family will announce their intention for visiting. Once the negotiation is approved and agreed upon by the two families the bride will be called and asked to give her consent on the proposal (that’s if she is okay with the proposal or objects).
Before any negotiation take place, the groom family will pay (KAJAMA) to allow the negotiation to take place. The “Kajama” is usually in a form of container made of mvule full of coconut brew or in cash.
Kima/Mali is the bride’s dowry. Twelve kajama is given as dowry to the bride to be. However the twelve Kajama will be divided by two families (6 Kajama will be given to bride family and 6 to grooms family) known as “Kuukeniand Kuumeni”
CHA TAHU (Cha tahu)
Hunda: Mali ya Msichana (The girls dowry depends with the family.
During the proposal ceremony the groom’s family (KUUMENI) is gifted with jogoo by the kuukeni family. The kuumenifamily accepts the gift but instead give it back to be prepared and shared by the two families.
Before giving another date for visit to take the dowry to the bride’s home “ kuwekambara” the groom will visit the bride in secret to get to know each other. The date to take the dowry to the bride’s home will then be fixed for Mali (ulozi).
Mali (Ulozi) “mwekambari” will be sent to the bride family to fix the date for taking the Mali, the date will be fixed and preparation for the day will begin, all the 12 kajama should be ready by the day. Ceremony during this day the groom’s family will visit the bride family with all the requirements discussed and negotiated during the proposal ceremony to formalize. On this day 12 men and 12 women will carry the twelve kajama to the bride home. Together with the rest of requirements, they will head to the bride home.
The bride’s family (KUUKENI) will receive the visitors with Shangwe, Vigelegele and nderemo songs and dance. The kuumeni family will be receive by twelve women and men from the kuukeni to receive the “kajama”
A WEEK AFTER THE (DOWRY) MALI CEREMONY:
A week after the mali ceremony the groom’s and his family will visit the bride family (KUSERERA NYAYO) just to get to know each other and familiarization. During the visit to “Kuukeni“family the Kuumeni family will meet all the expenses occurred during the visit.
The groom’s family will send “Mwekambara” to the bride family to fix the date for the wedding day. The Rabai’s community celebrates their weddings for two to three days.
ONE WEEK AFTER THE WEDDING:
One week after the wedding the bride’s family will visit the groom family (KUMTOA MSICHANA WAO INJE) on this day the bride family will visit with all the kitchen facilities. The bride will cook and serve her husband’s father and mother in-law. This will mark the last ceremony and the bride is handed over officially to her husband.
Story By Edward Karuku
Facilitated By Fatma Mansoor