Roora (bride-price or dowry) is an old custom where a groom pays in order to marry the bride. The payment made to the bride’s family is meant to signify gratitude towards the bride’s family for raising her and a smaller portion of it is to help the bride set up house. It is a process that not only brings a bride and groom together, it also brings their families together. The process includes negotiations between the two families where they talk about the number of cattle (which represent money) to be paid and so on. This payment is now increasingly being paid out in cash or both cash and cattle. I won’t go into detail about the whole process but you can stop by xxxxxx’s blog and read about her experience – (note: link has been removed at the request of the site owner).
A number of Zimbabweans in the Diaspora are falling in love sometimes the people they are falling in love with are still living in Zimbabwe and regardless of that fact they are sticking to tradition and having customary marriages. Roora has now become big business with a number of brides’ families seeing it as an opportunity to get their hands on some hard cash. With the groom living outside Zimbabwe it is becoming more and more common for the families to demand payment in foreign currency. Some even go as far as to demand cars and houses.
Fact of the matter is that a number of the men are not able to meet these demands or see them as absurd. The man’s family may try to negotiate further but in most cases they run for the hills never to be seen again and the couple ends up not getting married. I have a relative who demanded that his daughter’s suitor who is based in South Africa pay him in Rands. He asked for a very high and unrealistic amount that the groom and his family could not afford. The groom’s family left a little stunned promising to return for further negotiations. That was two years ago and they have not yet returned.
Just because someone is living out of the country it does not mean that they are suddenly doing very well for themselves and can afford anything and everything that their heart desires. If anything, it is a little harder for them to get on their feet. A number take up menial jobs and are struggling to get by. As is the case with a lot of Zimbabweans in the Diaspora they are looking after relatives and family back home by sending them whatever money they can.
People should not forget about where they came from and wherever possible should stick to tradition. In the case of Roora, people should not exploit such a custom for their own personal gain and should use it for what it is meant for, defining relationships between two families.