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Zimbabwe Bride Price ‘Roora’ Payment Procedure

Across Africa, traditional weddings are part of the culture, as this is the way the people of the continent knew to get married before the church or white wedding was introduced to them. It is indeed a legitimate form of marriage.

Africa, though one big continent, every country has its unique way or method of carrying out their marriage rites. Having said that, let’s now journey into Zimbabwe’s bride price payment procedure; Roora.

According to the Shona custom, Roora means to acquire a wife. Bride price or dowry – a token paid by the groom-to- be when he is about to marry his bride- to- be, and it is split into categories.

A Zimbabwe traditional wedding is incomplete without Roora, as this component of the wedding defines the levels of respect between the two families involved.

Under Shona traditional customary law, Roora is mandatory, and this is how it is done.

The groom’s family must first select a Munyai, ‘messenger’ who will convey the news of the proposed marriage to the family of the bride. The Munyai is usually a close friend or relative of the groom.

As the Munyai approaches the bride’s village, he positions himself strategically and shouts “Matsvakirai Kuno!” Any villager who hears him, chases him away with a whip. After several calls, he is eventually allowed into the village to deliver his message.

The Munyai then passes on his message to the family elders (the woman’s uncles). Then the elders meet to deliberate on the issue, and to set the level of Roora to be paid. Once they decide, beer is brewed and shared with the Munyai to formalize the agreement. 

The Munyai then returns to the groom’s family and presents the list of items given to him by the bride’s family.

Cattle in Zimbabwe are considered to be a significant sign of wealth, and as such, Roora must consist of a specified number of cattle. The groom is however not expected to hand over all the cattle immediately, but to pay off the ‘debt’ over many years.

Apart from Roora, other gifts are included in the list, such as shoes, hats, suits, and blankets for the bride’s parents. Other items on the list are:

1. Makandinzwa Nani (how did you know that I have a daughter) – the equivalent of USD 2,000

2. Makukidza Dumbu (for the mother) – the equivalent of USD 2,000

3. Rusambo (highest portion of Roora) -10 cattle or the equivalent (approximately USD 10,000)

4. Mombe Yehumai (for the mother) – the equivalent of USD 1,500

5. Mombe Yechimanda (if the girl is a virgin) – USD 1,000.

In modern day Zimbwabwe, Roora is seen as an out-of-date practice, especially by the young men. But it is not so with the elders, as they view Roora as an integral part of the traditional wedding process as Roora binds families together for life.

Young girls, however, see the payment of Roora as a sign of the young man’s commitment to the marriage. Roora is however not viewed as payment for the bride; as a woman can never be bought, but as an exchange of valuables to legitimize the marriage and a sign of thanksgiving for having raised a beautiful woman.

Interestingly, virginity is considered to be of great value in communities where the price of Roora is high, as the groom parts with a higher amount of wealth when he marries a virgin.

So After the Roora rites or ceremony has been concluded, the couple can go on to have a church wedding, as a wedding is not said to be complete until it’s consummated in the church, due to the influence of Christianity in Africa today.

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