A Long read though…mūtikanoge…very insightfull
AGIKUYU DOWRY PROCESS.
The Agĩkũyũ (the Kikuyu) are the most populous community in Kenya. They live mainly around the snow-capped Mt. Kĩrĩnyaga (Mt. Kenya) in what was known as the Central Province, as one of the 42 tribes. The myth of the origin of the Agĩkũyũ leads them to believe to be the descendants of Gĩkũyũ (father) and Mũmbi (mother) whose origin was in Mũkũrwe wa Nyagathanga (mũkũrwe being the Mũkũyũ fig tree and nyagathanga being an unknown species of birds). This is a place in Mũrang’a within Central Kenya where cultural centre has been set-up at the supposed original home of Gĩkũyũ and Mũmbi in Mũrang’a County.
The “nine” Clans of the Agĩkũyũ (Mĩhĩrĩga ya Agĩkũyũ)
The Agĩkũyũ believe in one deity known as Ngai – or Mũgai (The Divider)- who they believe lived in the highest peak of Mt. Kĩrĩnyaga (today’s Mt. Kenya). The original parents were blessed with nine full (10) daughters who were married to 9 men later given to Gikũyũ and Mũmbi when Gikũyũ prayed to Ngai by sacrificing a lamb under the sacred Mũgumo/Mũkũyũ tree to give them men to marry their daughters. The names of the daughters were Wanjirũ, Wambũi (aka Wangarĩ aka Waithekahumo), Wanjikũ, Wangũi (aka Waithiegeni), Wangeci (aka Waithĩra), Wanjeeri (aka Waceera), Nyambura (aka Wakĩũrũ), Wairimũ (aka Gathiigia) and Wamũyũ (aka Warigia). Myth goes on to state that it is from the daughters that-the “nine” (ten being 9 plus 1)clans of the Agĩkũyũ originated.
There is a Kikuyu Cultural Centre at Mukurwe wa Nyagathanga in Murang’a County.
The Agĩkũyũ are traditionally farmers and good livestock keepers. Their products from the farm and animals they bred were key in trade. Dowry payment was therefore counted in form of goats, sheep and cattle. The dowry process was however not a way to purchase a bride financially although the term used at times is Kũgũrana. The process is designed to enable families that come together to investigate each other’s background engage in banter that results in positive social interaction. The dowry – Rũracio – is at the center of a more elaborate process and a symbol of honor to the parents of the bride-to-be. It must be understood that all requirements for the dowry process are well documented and should not be used to denote the value of the bride-to-be in financial terms neither be used as a means of exploitation of the groom-to-be. There have been mistaken attempts to associate the rũracio with how much education the girl has received, her profession or with her social class. Any extra amounts given to the girl’s family in lieu of the standard dowry should be at the discretion of the groom according to his financial capacity and preferences.
In modern times, dowry payment still precedes a wedding amongst the Agĩkũyũ. The dowry payment is in a series of events, namely:
1.Kũmenya muciĩ (getting to know the bride’s home in two low-key visits)
2.Kũhanda ithĩgĩ (planting a branch of a tree – to open the way for actual dowry negotiations and during which the Kũonorwo mĩtĩ takes place) – may take place on the same day as Kũracia.
3.Kũracia or Rũracio (actual dowry payment which lasts a lifetime and not paid in full)
4.Kũonio itara (the lady getting to see where firewood was stored in the traditional kitchen; which is a visit to the Groom’s homestead)
5.Kũguraria / gutinia kiande (the traditional kikuyu wedding) – may be replaced with a Christian Church wedding.
This involves getting to know the bride’s home in two low-key visits. The visit is made up of two parts.
The firstkumenya muciiby young men
The secondkumenya muciiby the elders
Kũhanda ithĩgĩ (planting a branch of a tree – to open the way for actual dowry negotiations and during which the Kũonorwo mĩtĩ takes place) – may take place on the same day as the Kũracia process