Botswana Wedding Traditions: Old and New

wedding traditions

In Botswana, as in other countries, wedding traditions are evolving with changing times.

Different communities and tribes in Botswana have different wedding traditions. For many couples, though, getting married is a complex process that takes place over time, often years.

It’s increasingly common to have three ceremonies – a traditional ceremony, a civil marriage and a Western-style church wedding. It goes without saying that this adds to wedding costs.

The search for a bride begins

Traditionally, once a young man reaches the age of 18 his uncles start looking for a suitable wife.

They look for a ‘beautiful’ wife from a good family, where there is no ‘witchcraft, drunkenness or irresponsibility’.

Beauty is not defined by good looks but by good prudence.

Today, while some people have arranged marriages, many young people meet and choose a spouse independently.

The marriage must be approved

A wedding can’t take place without the approval of the local chief, the kgosi.

If anyone objects to the marriage, they don’t wait for the ceremony to announce it. They have a word with the kgosi.

Lengthy negotiations take place

Once a potential bride has been found, a delegation from the young man’s family – traditionally his uncles – is sent to the young woman’s home to ask her family (patlo) for her hand in marriage.

The delegation tries to gain favour with the girl’s family by taking gifts and showing humility and patience during the discussions.

Setting the ‘bride price’

Negotiations don’t end once the families have agreed to the marriage.

They have to agree on the ‘bride price’ (bogadi, mahadi or lobola).

The bride price is how much the groom’s family pays to the bride’s family for the honour of her hand in marriage.

Traditionally, the bride price is eight cows. Today, bogadi is commonly paid in cash and full payment sometimes takes years.

The date of the wedding is announced

Three weeks, or 21 days, before the wedding the couple announces the event.

Traditionally, before the wedding takes place, the groom builds a house for the new couple.

The ceremony – or ceremonies

The kgosi will perform the traditional marriage ceremony, which takes place before any other ceremony.

Women, who wear traditional dress of a skirt, blouse, shawl and head covering, are required to sit on the floor, while men are given chairs.

If the kgosi is not officially licenced, there will be another civil ceremony to make the marriage legal.

This is increasingly followed by a church wedding when the bride wears a Western-style white dress.

Weddings in Botswana are expensive

The increasingly common practice of hosting both traditional and church weddings means getting married is an expensive event.

On average, Batswana couples in the middle-income bracket spend from P150 000 to P300 000 on the traditional and white weddings.

Get a short-term loan from lamna Botswana

Even if you’ve saved to cover the costs of a Botswana wedding, you may encounter unexpected expenses.

When this happens, a short-term loan may help tide you over.

At lamna Botswana, we offer fast, discreet loans against the value of a wide range of assets, from luxury watches and jewellery to vehicles or valuable works of art.

For more information about using an asset to secure a short-term loan, contact us on 71 388 088 or simply complete and submit our online application form.

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