Traditional wedding showcased at Nama festival

Home National Traditional wedding showcased at Nama festival
Traditional wedding showcased at Nama festival

 Steven Klukowski

KEETMANSHOOP – In some parts of the world, it is common for couples to get married without the consent or blessing of their parents. In the Nama tradition, however, parents and the extended family form an integral part of the rites and ceremonies a couple goes through before the big day.

The intricacies and traditions around a Nama wedding were on full display during the recently concluded 2022 Nama Traditional Cultural Festival in Keetmanshoop.

It was decided to showcase the real wedding at the festival to make the youth and others aware of the traditions and rituals involved in a Nama traditional wedding and also since so many people could be attracted to it at a venue such as this.

According to Valerie Isaacks, chairperson of the festival’s organising committee, the cultural aspects of the wedding of Aloysius and Sophia Duncan started with the groom, together with his parents and family approaching the parents/family of the wife-to-be, the Monday before the wedding for her “to be handed over” to them. 

“It was only after being refused access to Sophia’s family home several times with excuses that they (family) do not know such a person or that she does not stay there that Aloysious’ family were allowed to enter,” she explained. 

The refusal of access to the groom’s family for entering the bride’s family home to ask for her hand according to tradition is to ensure that they do not assume having access to the place whenever they like or just because their son is marrying their daughter. 

They should arrange first for an appointment before coming there in the future. 

The groom will show perseverance and follow the ritual till the end without giving up.

Isaacks continued that this was followed by the symbolic slaughtering of a white sheep in the backyard of the prospective bride. 

The white sheep symbolises prosperity, purity and happiness in the future marriage. 

It is slaughtered at the wife’s family house as a sign of a traditional sacrifice for getting the hand of the bride.

“What will follow is that the groom will be interrogated by one of the bride’s older family members on details of his relationship with her,” she added. 

The groom is interrogated to determine if he indeed knows the bride and if he is also the man wanting to marry their daughter. He must also be able to identify her by showing any mark or symbol on her body as the person he wants to marry. Isaacks continued that this ritual has been followed by the slaughtering of small livestock at both homesteads. 

“It is required from both partners to slaughter two goats and two sheep each at their respective parents’ houses on the Thursday and Friday nights before the wedding takes place on the Saturday,” she added.  

Isaacks also said the engagement ceremony was conducted on the Friday night at the future bride’s family’s house, whereafter the couple has been sworn into holy matrimony in accordance with Christian norms at the festival last Saturday.

The cross slaughtering of the small livestock by both families and the real wedding took place at the festival. 

When approached for comment on her emotions by New Era, the bride said it feels like a dream and still waits for reality to sink in.  “Words cannot describe my joy and happiness of being officially recognised as Mrs Duncan from now on,” she acclaimed. 

Sophia also expressed her profound gratitude toward the festival’s organising committee, family and friends for their support in kind to make her wedding a reality.