In Ethiopia the Karo people enhance a young brides beauty by tattooing her abdomen with different symbols.
The Massai people of Kenya grow up with children of their own age and normally form relationships with these people. However, in marriage women are given to a man they do not know who is much older then themselves. The bride packs all her belongings and is dressed in her finest jewelry. At the marriage ceremony the father of the bride spits on the brides head and breasts as a blessing and then she leaves with her husband walking to her new home she never looks back fearing that she will turn to stone. This can be a very sad experience for the bride, who is 13-16 years old and may walk a long way to get to her new house. In order to ward off bad luck sometimes the women of the grooms family will even insult the bride.
The Swahili of Kenya bathe brides in sandalwood oils and tatoo henna designs on her limbs. A women elder, or somo, gives instructions to the bride on how to please her husband. Sometimes the somo will even hide under the bed in case there are any problems!
The Himba people of Namibia kidnap a bride before the ceremony and dress her in a leather marriage headdress. After the ceremony she is brought into the house where the family tells her what her responsibilities will be as the wife and then anoint her with butterfat from cows. This shows that she has been accepted into the family.
The Wodabee of Niger court their cousins for marriage. The male cousins wear powerful amulets which are supposed to heighten their attractiveness to the girl. If there are two cousins who desire the same girl the girl chooses the one she wishes and the other man is welcomed into the home of the couple, and if consent is given by the bride he may even share her bed!
In another area of Kenya the main feature of the wedding is the kupamba, which happens the night after the wedding, it is basically a display of the bride. It is very popular because it is a party just for the women, and when they enter the party they are able to take off their large veils and show off elaborate hairstyles and dresses. The party can almost become a competition because it is believed that if a women has a good husband he will get her beautiful jewelry and clothes.
The Neur people of southern Sudan the groom must pay 20-40 cattle, the marriage is completed only after the wife has born 2 children. If the wife only bears one child and the husband asks for a divorce he can also ask for either the return of the cattle or the first child. Divorce therefore is very difficult.
Another interesting fact is that if a husband dies then the husbands family must provide a brother to the widow and any children born to the brother are considered the deceased's children.
The wedding process begins in many areas of Nigeria with a feast held by the families of the bride and groom where they get to know each other. At that time the grooms family gives the brides family gifts.
Then the bride comes to live with the grooms family, if that goes well then a marriage ceremony is held. In tribal areas of Nigeria a husband is never allowed to call his wife by her name. Only relatives and and the mother's children are allowed to call the wife by her name. A woman is called by the name of her father. Before a marriage ceremony the village gets together and sings that the bride is about to be married. She is carried into a small hut where she stays until her husband joins her and the marriage is consummated. The groom can only enter the hut after he has given gifts to all the guests. The next day a goat is killed and it's blood is poured over the threshold. The girl's mother asks her if she is pleased with her husband and then singing and dancing take place and people can pay 1 penny to see the bride and another penny if they want to rub her body with camwood which is a sign of good luck.
In Egypt girls are given in marriage at a very young age, usually around 12 to 15. Usually cousins marry each other except singles in Cairo where a man, when he is ready to marry will turn to his mother and sisters who help him or find a matchmaker to assist. When a woman is asked to be married she hires a negotiator and this person or a female relative will negotiate with the grooms family on a bride price and date for the ceremony. Sometimes, as soon as an agreement takes place the couple is married without ceremony.
Usually, the night of the ceremony day the groom and his friends will bring a portion of the bride price and the ceremony is performed. The bride and groom sit face to face with their right thumbs together a reader of the Koran will tie their hands together with a handkerchief and pray for them. However, after this day the couple does not live together until a few days later the groom welcomes the bride into his home and friends and family come to congratulate them.
In Somalia there are marriage laws that are in place. These laws are very similar to Muslim marriage laws except that a man may have 4 wives in Somali laws if he is able to provide for them all. Also, women can become engaged to a man before she is even born. This arrangement is made between the man and the expecting parents and a small gift is given to the parents. Later on a larger gift called the yarad is given to the parents as payment for the bride. If the bride dies before the wedding the gift must be returned. When it becomes time for the ceremony most of the yarad is returned to the brides parents and a dowry is settled. This is very important because if the wife's husband dies or there is a divorce the dowry is given back to the bride.