Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Nuer marriage

The Nuer people are a tribe of Nilotic ethnic group concentrated in the Greater Upper Nile region of South Sudan numbering about 2 million. They also live in the Ethiopian region Gambella.

For a Nuer who goes to a wedding either expects to get a cow or will have to contribute a cow. Those who contributed to the groom’s expenses will claim a cow when his daughter gets married a generation later.

Nuer marriage is a protracted affair involving many negotiations and ceremonial meetings. When the boy expresses his desire to get married and it’s agreed upon in the family, he makes the proposal to the girl. If she says no resolutely, the boy forgets about her.

If she agrees, she will not say ‘yes’ openly (this would seem bad as if she were an easy going-girl).

One cannot marry within one's own lineage or clan. In as much as clans may be very large, a wide segment of the population is thus prohibited from intermarriage.

The rule also prohibits marriage with any of the mother's lineage, though not with other lineages in her clan, and even with those considered kindred by a fiction or analogy, as for example, in the case of a boy and girl whose fathers are in the same age-set.

The Nuer people are a cattle owning society, and marriage was accomplished though a payment of cattle by the groom’s family to that of the bride.

The kinsmen of a bride would expect to receive minimum payment twenty cattle, credit was not accepted. There was also an ideal payment of about thirty-six head. But because cattle circulated as the main currency among the Nuer, bride wealth was not a method by which a man would gain wealth.

The married couple do not actually live together until a child is born. The girl is given a special hut in her own family's homestead, and the husband remains with his own family, making overnight visits to his wife whenever he can. After a child is born, the husband is fully accepted as a member of the girl's family.
Nuer marriage

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