By Okello Jaspher

GULU– The exorbitant conditions levied on a man to marry an Acholi woman have provoked some leaders in Acholi sub region to petition the paramount chief of Acholi Cultural Institution to take action. The leaders have called upon the Rwot David Onen Acana-II to prevail over the ever-increasing bride prices in Acholi traditional marriages.

The LC3 chairperson of Bar-dege division in Gulu Municipality, Patrick Oola Lumumba said infiltration of Acholi marriage culture with external cultures has made many young people to delay of forget about marriage. “We the Acholi, especially the youth, are really caught up and are suffering because of the high bride prices parents of girls are asking these days. It is making some of us to delay marriage or few are getting married unlike our neighboring tribe-the Langi”, Lumumba lamented urging that, “This thing has to be addressed and above all there is a new culture that has been introduced to Acholi culture which is foreign and has made marriage very expensive. You have to buy clothing for almost the entire clan and all the women in the bride’s side”.

Acholi leaders meet the Rwot Acana-II (seated left)-Photo by Jaspher Okello

Meanwhile. the town clerk of Pader Town Council, Alice Ajok said this has made some men to dehumanize women. “People have put traditional marriage not as appreciation to the role of parents in upbringing of their daughters and have adopted to other cultures which do not really reflect how we do things in the past”, said Ajok. On the aspect of dehumanizing the woman, she said, “This will not be sustaining because the man will look at the woman as a property. I call upon the cultural institution to prevail over the matter”.

The paramount chief, Rwot David Onen Acana-II acknowledged the concern and said the institution dispatched a team to seek people’s opinion on the matter. “Last year, I sent out a team of clan chiefs to seek people’s opinion on how marriage should be conducted. The new trend in marriage today was not in our culture, it is foreign cultures, it must stop. You should feel ashamed. It portrays that we do not know how to marry and the reason for marriage. The practice has turned marriage into business. Why do you cover a lady and say search for your bride? What do you learn from that? All cultural practices in Acholi have set values”, said Rwot Acana.

It remains to be seen how the institution will amicably preside over the crucial matter, given the cultural erosion facing the Acholi people. End

Additional information

Traditionally, a young man was dependent upon his lineage head and elders both for permission to marry and for the material goods required for bride-wealth; elders of the woman’s lineage were also much involved in the discussions and negotiations surrounding the marriage. Bride-wealth has varied over time but has usually included iron objects, domestic animals, and, in the twentieth century, money. Marriage has been typically patrilocal and patriarchal, with the husband and father as the undisputed head of the household. Although polygamy has often been presented as an ideal, limited means have always made it rare in practice. Children are highly prized, and historically a couple did not set up their own household until the birth of their first child, living until then in the household of the husband’s mother. Childlessness is one of the most serious misfortunes imaginable; women are typically blamed, and the marriage often ends or the husband takes a second wife. Divorce, which can occur for numerous reasons, is not uncommon and may or may not involve return of the bride-wealth; children, as members of the father’s lineage, usually either stay with the father or return to him later. Even bride-wealth marriages are now often mainly nuclear-family affairs, and other alternatives to traditional marriage are common. These include Christian marriage (with or without bride-wealth), elopement, and single parenthood. End.