Dowry, also referred to as bride wealth or bride price, is a consultative, amicable, and quantifiable summation of goods exchanged between the groom’s and bride’s families. Traditionally, dowry (ngasya) payment among the Akamba was an obligation for the parents-in-law (husband’s parents), but that has in the recent past transitioned to the husband paying the dowry himself. An emerging trend is, however, catching up with married women budding together and opting to pay the dowry for themselves, which is not only a cultural shock and an empowering paradigm shift but also a ceremony that could be riddled and clouded with rifts amongst spouses. “Ndwae ngone mwaitu” literally translated to mean “Let us visit my mother,” is a ceremony that is becoming popular among Kenyans from different tribes. The ceremony is organized by one who goes to see his or her biological mother, accompanied by friends of the same age. This paper examines “Ndwae ngone mwaitu” as an emerging postmodern cultural phenomenon in dowry honourship and its relation to spousal violence by analysing couples’ life narratives. The article employs Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo’s notion of snail-sense feminism to examine the viability of realizing fair and humanistic co-existence for couples after “Ndwae ngone mwaitu” disguised for dowry honourship. Snail-Sense feminism espouses the pattern of the snail to ‘negotiate’ or ‘dialogue’ within its milieu to get around impediments with a ‘well-lubricated tongue.” This theory is adopted as it offers women tactical strategies for achieving emancipation from cultural norms and men’s domination that perpetuate gender-based violence. The paper employed a qualitative design, utilizing interview schedules and focus group discussions to elicit experiential data from men and women attending “Ndwae ngone mwaitu” ceremonies in various parts of Ukambani in Kitui County in Kenya. The article affirms the value of cultural identity, respect, and negotiating power and space that one attains after meeting the societal expectations that come along with the practice, cementing the value of marriage and dowry customs among the Akamba. As such, dowry honourship, even though contested in the contemporary space, is a cultural practice that both men and women ought to navigate tactfully, thus, averting spousal violence.
Musili, Telesia Kathini
"Ndwae ngone mwaitu: A Postmodern Cultural Phenomenon of Dowry among the Akamba and its influence on Spousal Violence,"
Journal of International Women's Studies: Vol. 24:
4, Article 11.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol24/iss4/11