Bizarre Marriage Culture in Africa

By Titilayo Kupoliyi

Africa is a continent with myriad cultural practices, some of which are quite unique and unusual, Follow us to Kenya where we shall X-ray some marriage practices of some tribes.

Barren Wife ‘Marrying’ Another Wife

In this case, an infertile wife will literally marry another lady that will bear kids for her husband on her ‘behalf’.  

The barren woman, in this case, is considered the husband in this marriage and children born by the lady become hers.

The child from this union bears the surname of the ‘woman’s-husband’. This practice is rampant among the Kambas, Taitas, Kurias and also the Kisiis in Kenya.

Ghost/Grave Marriages

If a son dies before or without getting married, the parents arrange for him to marry in absentia.

This is purposely done so that the dead son cannot be cut off from the chain of life which is supreme and most important.

Parents of a dead son will have to conduct a grave marriage if the son died before/without getting married. The mother of the dead son agrees with the family of the lady to be ‘married off’ and with the consent of the lady as well.

This is also rampant among the Kambas in Kenya.

Wife Swapping

Another weird practise that is still being done is swapping of wives if one is found cheating. Both parties swap wives for an agreed period of time and then return them after the rather obvious.

This has been even witnessed recently in Luhya land in Northern Kenya.

Leviratic marriages 

Leviratic marriages can be easily confused with widow inheritance but here I am to shed some light on this.

Leviratic marriage is when a husband dies, and the widow is married by a brother or just any relative but in this case, children from the union are regarded as those of the dead husband. This is practised by the Kambas, Nandi and Luos in Kenya.

Forcible Marriage

If in a family there are only girls, then the last born daughter is not allowed to be married. The last born daughter is required to stay home with her parents and bear children, male children in this case; with any man she likes and the children will be her father


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