Africa is one of the continents of the world with diverse traditions. Earlier today we reported about how some African countries prepare their women for marriage. However, there is one tribe in Uganda whose way of preparing its women for marriage differs completely from other African tribes. The question now is ‘How much influence should aunties have on their nieces? In many African cultures, aunties provide counselling to their young nieces as they age from adolescence to adulthood. When it comes to marriage, these aunties prepare their nieces for the challenges that lie ahead.
But for the Banyankole people in Southwestern Uganda, the aunt does more than the above, especially during the marriage.
When a couple wants to get married, the primary responsibility of the bride’s aunt is to carry out a sexual check on both her niece and her nephew-in-law. Essentially, the aunt does this by having sex with the groom to check his potency and virility.
She also has to “test” if the bride is still a virgin before they are allowed to consummate their marriage.
In other traditions, the aunt is said to go as far as listening in or watching as the bride and groom have sex in order to prove the couple’s potency.
Inasmuch as this practice may sound weird, it shows how the people of Banyankole hold virginity in high esteem.
As soon as a Banyankole girl is eight, she goes through a lot of restrictions to prepare her for marriage.
When other children her age in other cultures are out having fun and playing, a girl in this part of Uganda is mostly kept indoors, where she is fed beef and millet porridge and forced to drink milk in large quantities so that she becomes fat.
Being fat is synonymous with beauty among the Banyankoles.
When she starts developing breasts, she is also asked by her parents to abstain from sexual activities.
It is the duty of a Banyankole father to find a wife for his son as he pays the bridewealth as well. This consists of some cows, goats and pots of beer, depending on how rich a person is.
Once the bride price is paid, the marriage preparations begin. On the wedding day, there is a lot of feasting at the bride’s home, where the father is expected to slaughter a bull.
At the bridegroom’s home, there is another feast where the marriage is consummated. This is after the bride’s aunt has “tested” her niece’s purity and slept with the groom to also check his potency.