Experiencing Ghana’s colourful traditional engagement ceremony with Abeiku and Esi
In Ghana the “engagement” or traditional marriage is a full marriage under the law. It is not a promise to marry as is common in the West. My dear friend and brother Abeiku and bride to be Esi invited James, Matt and I to their special traditional marriage. I had not been to a typically Fante traditional marriage ceremony so I was enthusiastically looking forward to the D Day with an incredible sense of expectation.
In the Fante (generally Akan) culture a man informs his family to fix a date to approach the lady’s family. They then go to the lady’s family to perform the “kokookor” or “knocking rights”. Sometimes the knocking rights and the traditional wedding are done in the same day.
Traditionally schnapps, gifts and money are taken by the groom’s family to present to the bride’s family. Once the bride’s side receives the gifts they present the man with a list of things needed for the traditional marriage. Examples include 12 half pieces of cloth, shoes, jewellery, full piece cloths plus money for the father, mother and money for her brother known as “Akonta”
The ceremony ie the traditional marriage is often held at the bride’s father’s house. The items requested were presented to Esi’s family and all this by the way was done in the absence of the bride.
When everything was presented, Abeiku’s family then asked the bride to be brought before them. This was one of the most amusing moments. A couple of veiled “brides” were brought in first and the groom and his family were asked if they were the right bride. Amid laughter the groom’s side shouted no! no! no!
This went on until the real bride – Esi – was brought forward and on seeing her the groom and his family pointed out that that was the bride they had come to “pluck” away! The bride was asked if she knew the groom to which she responded in the affirmative.
A Bible and a beautiful ring was then put on her finger by the groom to symbolise the completion of the marriage. Closing prayers were said and speeches made by both the groom and bride’s side to give marriage tips and to pronounce more blessings.
The ceremony was then seamlessly transitioned into a mini party. Guests celebrated the union with refreshments and some delicious food! As guests ate the bride and groom worked the floor thanking each guests who had attended.