Thursday, March 12, 2009

Recently the son of one of our friends approached us about helping him pay a “dot”, or bride-price. Here is what his father-in-law-to-be is asking of him: one pig, one goat, transportation costs for everyone who travels to the village for the wedding, and all of the food and drinks. He also sent a list of thirty relatives, noting the amount of money ($5.00 -$40.00) that must be given in person to each one. (They live in nine different towns, scattered throughout the south of the country.) This is all quite reasonable. The bride is from a very important and wealthy family, so her father could have asked for a lot more. The “dot” serves an important social purpose. It links the two families. If the young couple has problems, it is in everyone’s interest to help them work it out. The groom’s family wants to protect its investment; the bride’s family doesn’t want to have to pay back the “dot”. When a marriage does break up, it often creates wide problems. If a “dot” has been paid, the wife and any children belong more to the husband’s family than she does her own.

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