Rwandans spend a large part of their annual income on Christmas


At the current rate of transformation, there is a tremendous shift in culture and things that were previously important have become very insignificant to the new generation.

For example, the dowry has lost its importance in the formation of new families.

Couples today simply agree to start a family, then go to the nearest sector office with witnesses on either side, take an oath before a notary, then pay 10,000 Rwf and are declared husband and wife.

The couple then affix their signatures in a huge hardcover book and return home to start their new family. And it is quite simply as required by the law which has made it so cheap, convenient and quick for consenting and consenting adults (men and women) to start a family.

With all of this provided for by law, there are still many couples who have failed to remove the cultural bottlenecks that prevent them from getting married. Some parents still demand an exorbitant old dowry, which has prevented most of their daughters from staying at home with no chance of starting a family.

In traditional Rwandan society, when culture ruled over all aspects of society, the process that a couple had to go through to start a family was so costly in terms of the demands.

According to cultural tradition, a Rwandan man would mobilize cattle, local beer, many gifts and several other items, all known as dowry, to give to the girls’ family before giving it to the qualified man.

For example, comingie Mukasine, a resident of Rwamagana district, got married in the 1950s. She still believes that the dowry should be maintained.

“We were very proud to be accompanied by a cow valued as dowry behind us and brides carried on traditional stretchers,” recalls Mukasine of her heyday.

She remembers that her son-in-law’s family must have offered her a cow (indongoranyo) when the cow offered as a dowry has given birth to a calf.

She cautions other parents against requiring an expensive dowry, as it can scare off potential step-parents and, in some cases, create conflict between couples.

Mukarusine is the mother of eight children.

Nyirabikari Stephanie, 75, lives in Kamonyi in Southern Province, says that as a mother who has children who have married, she believes dowry should be banned if it is an obstacle for young people to marry

“The dowry was a way of honoring parents for raising their daughter well, but now it is becoming a bad habit with money.

Sometimes this has led to couples having a child before marriage, fearing that the boy will manage to build her dowry. So families didn’t talk much about dowry.

She suggests that if a man cannot find cows for dowry, the parents of girls should not demand a lot of money because only love matters. If possible, the girl shouldn’t even be stuck at home because the boy can’t afford to pay the dowry instead, the girl would leave without offering anything to the parents because they love each other.

On the other hand young people have a say in the dowry especially men, most of them say that today marriage is too expensive but others say that if the dowry is abolished, they could get married easily and omit certain ceremonies.

Gasana Jean de Dieu works as a building technician in Kigali, says he will not spend millions on marriage; “I can’t spend 5 million on a wedding, maybe I’ll negotiate with my girlfriend and we only have traditional marriage or it’s not easy.”

Kayitare Damascene from Nyamata in Ngeruka sector says that even a girl who has not gone to school cannot leave her parents unless you offer at least 500,000 Rwf as a dowry.

“I am now 25 years old and I practice mechanics but I do not think of getting married, because I have tried it and I found that in Nyamata the dowry is now between 700,000 Rwf and 1 million Rwf, c It’s difficult for me because I am surviving on temp jobs.

Uwamahoro Innocent thinks love is between two people

Uwamahoro Innocent, 28, is the manager of a gas station, he admits he can’t even marry a girl without a dowry, he respects Rwandan culture and doesn’t care about the money given to parents as a dowry.

“I respect the culture and changes will always happen. I can’t even marry a girl without giving her parents nothing but the problem would be negotiating with my girlfriend and the way we communicate because I believe love is between two people. If they come to an agreement, the family will not disapprove of their decision.

But married women argue that dowry is important in Rwandan culture but do not understand where the culture of giving money as a dowry comes from.

Nkundimmura Rosette, Director of Gender and Family Promotion agrees that the dowry has been a big problem since some people have started offering money as a dowry.

“Things change with development, now the dowry is valued in terms of money and it leaves an image of commerce, the boys sometimes apply for bank loans to pay for the dowry and other ceremonies,” Nkundimfura explains.

She says there are consequences to such marriages that end up creating family conflicts caused by the crisis of marriage and expensive dowry.

She advises young people to discuss sufficiently before even announcing their project to parents which will help them to get to know each other and not to spend too much money beyond their means.

The Rwandan Academy of Languages ​​and Culture (RALC) told Taarifa that it is trying to sensitize people to think about culture first, going back to ancient culture and all series of ceremonies because they are all important and significant.

Dr Jack Nzabonimpa suggests that couples get closer to their families early in order to chat and get to know each other.

The culture staff of Dr Jack Nzabonimpa of RALC notes that the dowry does not recoup the cost of what parents spent to raise their daughter, but it is a cultural component.

“We have plans to mobilize people to change their mindset, there is a book already published explaining the process of traditional marriage and its meaning.

There are campaigns (Family Campaign) organized in partnership with the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion MIGEPROF and other programs to help people have a common understanding of dowry.

He advises parents not to destroy the future family even before being formed, he also recommends that couples get closer to their family early in order to discuss and get to know each other.

“They should offer a dowry according to the standard of living, if the cost of the cow is 300,000 Rwf, do not pay more, so that will avoid family conflicts,” suggested Dr Nzabonimpa.

Editor’s Note: This article was published on May 27, 2019

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