Civilisation brought white weddings to Africa. Nevertheless, Africans do not joke with their traditional marriage ceremonies as families of the couple go through a lot of preparations to make the ceremony successful.
Apart from the joy, food and drinks that fill the ceremony, the other factor that makes the occasion outstanding is the traditional wedding attire. These outfits are made of fabrics that are unique and have special traditional meanings attached.
Here’s how these major ethnic groups on the continent dress up for the beautiful occasion.
They are found in the KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa and their traditional marriage is known as Umabo. This takes place usually after the white wedding and the lobola (bride price). During the Umabo, the bride wears isidwaba, a leather skirt; isicwaya, a skin to cover her breasts; and inkehli, a hat to cover her head. She also puts on colourful beads.
The groom wears ibheshu, a covering made from calfskin. If he insists on wearing pants, then he must wear umbhulaselo, which are pants that are brightly decorated with beads. He must also not forget his traditional headband.
During the Alaga Ijoko, the Yoruba traditional wedding, the bride wears gele, a headscarf; buba, a blouse; and iro, a wrapper tied around her waist. She adds accessories like gold earrings and necklace, beads and bangles.
The groom puts on an agbada, a traditional four-piece suit and fila, a Yoruba traditional cap. The colour of the woman’s attire must complement the colour theme for the wedding and reflect the man’s outfit as well.
The Efiks are a minority tribe in southern Nigeria with a traditional wedding attire that is so unique from other cultures. The bride first wears Ofong Ukod Anwang, an attire which includes a knee length skirt, blouse (usually covering only the bust) with decorated beads. The second attire is the Onyonyo, a big long flowing gown as shown in the photo above. She also wears over the top hairpins and carries a decorated staff.
The groom wears a white shirt with colourful wrappers known as the Usobo. He also puts on a beaded jacket, beaded shoes and a hat. He must not forget to hang a long piece of cloth (the Okpomkpomon) around his neck.
The bride also wears nyori, a headband with huge hoop earrings that settle on the top of her ears as well as mido, earrings in the holes of her earlobe.
The groom would wear a headgear made of sheepskin, a maroon or brown fabric across his chest. He would also accessorize with a beaded necklace, a necklace made from cowrie shell, a flywhisk and sheathed blade.
Other brides prefer to wear Ankara or Kitenge attires for a more stylish appearance.
This ethnic group from Ethiopia often engages in arranged marriages called Kadhaaor Naqataa. During the wedding, the bride and the groom wear traditional attire that is hand-woven from pure cotton and decorated with Oromo prints. Women normally put on the Habesha wedding dress, which is accompanied by Habesha jewellery while the men wear Buffalaa-Uffannaa Gaa’elaa, which their popular wedding attire.
Located in central Ghana, this ethnic group begins their traditional marriage with a knocking ceremony (kokooko) where the man and his family go to the woman’s family to ask for their daughter’s hand in marriage. The marriage ceremony takes place right after an agreement. The bride and groom wear colourful attire made from the rich kente cloth. The bride adds other accessories including colourful beads and head decorations.