Who is your shibukombe (marriage mediator)
Published On December 12, 2022 » 1810 Views» By Times Reporter » Features
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IF you are marrying into an African family, one thing you have to prepare for as a groom is to go with representatives to declare your intention for a hand in marriage.
The law in Zambia recognises two types of marriage; statutory marriage, under the Marriage Act, and customary marriage, under different customs that may vary from tribe to tribe.
Whichever type of marriage one goes for, it is customary in Zambia that before you get married, paying lobola (bride price) is part of the marriage procedure for the man to follow in his engagements with the family of his wife to be.
Imagine where the groom goes with an entourage of friends who are drunk, including the mediator, only to embarrass and misrepresent themselves in the presence of the bride’s relatives.
Today, some parents pay little attention to the choice of who represents their son during the marriage formalities.
It is also not new that in some cases, it is left with the individual groom involved and sometimes the groom may or may not inform the family.
Where parents raise any objections and refuse to participate in the formalities, even for good reasons, in some cases, some grooms have gone ahead to involve marriage mediators that their families do not agree with.
But even in cases where parents have consented, we can still see a trend in grooms engaging marriage negotiators who are known as “shibukombe” in Zambia.
Sadly, what has been lost over the years is the role played by maternal and paternal aunties and uncles, including closest elderly relatives.
The place for a fruitful foundation cannot be over emphasised in marriage and should be revisited in our modern days if we are to see healthy marriages.
Lusaka based marriage counselor Chileshe Chipili said some homes have been broken in the name of modernisation and social advancement because marriage is being taken casually.
Mr Chipili said there is nothing wrong in engaging other people to participate in your son’s marriage negotiations.
“I am one of those people who are engaged to play the role of a marriage negotiator in my family and other people who are not my relations,” he said.
Mr Chipili said, “A marriage mediator can be any one of moral standing to represent the groom and his family when going to seek for a hand in marriage and later participate in the negotiation process.”
He said families are free to also include any of their members to be part of the entourage as this instills a sense of collective responsibility.
“It is true that some of these young men have sidelined their relatives and hire people who are introduced as uncles as long as they can meet their demands. What is unfortunate is that most of these people have a questionable background and cannot impart positive values on the groom concerning marriage,” Mr Chipili said.
He said in addition, some individuals can be friends of the groom and be of questionable character, and their relationships or marriages may not even be inspiring to the couple to be.
“It is important that parents and guardians play an important role in choosing a mediator both in the family and outside as this is the same person the couple will consult when faced with challenges in future,” he said.
Mr Chipili said some parents and family members of the bride are more interested in money and the status of the groom without any consideration of the people who represent him.
He said there is more to marriage than money and status and people must take interest in the foundation of marriage if society wants children to grow up in a safe environment.
Mr Chipili also said with so much abuse and violence taking place, it calls for elders to take interest in partners that their children want to settle down with.
He said a marriage mediator acts as a representative of the groom’s family and can, therefore, be a reflection of what type of family the groom comes from.
“Whether the groom has the capacity to pay bride price that is charged, it is the duty of the mediator to ensure that all marriage procedures are respected and followed to the latter.
How do you pick a mediator who has failed to keep his marriage? What advise do you expect the groom to be given?” he asked.
Mr Chipili said if the groom cannot have a respectful and mature entourage to represent him for the marriage procedures, this must signal a warning which should not be ignored.
“Also, if a woman is marrying a foreigner or there is need to travel to meet the bride’s relation, the mediator must follow all procedures because shortcuts can have a negative bearing in future,” he said.
Mr Chipili said there are very unpleasant situations where the groom is married and arranges for a mediator to go and ask for another woman’s hand in marriage while his relations and wife at home are not aware.
He also cautioned families of the bride to take interest in what type of families their daughter would be marrying from, as this could also help them with what to incorporate in the marriage procedure.
Mr Chipili appealed to mediators to be alert and not only to being interested in the consultation fee.
He said mediators should take interest and engage the families of the groom so as to establish all the facts that may be required.
It is against this background that activities that take place with marriage mediators should not be ignored or mishandled as some cases of abuse and violence have emanated from not following procedure.
It is important that every man wishing to get married consults with the elders and picks a mediator that would ably represent him and his family accordingly.
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