A few months ago, I wrote an article about the bridewealth custom (also known as bride-price) practiced in many Sub-Saharan African countries such as Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. In that article, I argued for the abolishment of the custom, mainly because of how it has widely become corrupted into a profiteering scheme in modern society, and how this may disempower the bride in the marriage.
I received some pushback on the article; some folks weren’t thrilled that I was denouncing this part of my Zimbabwean culture, and asserted that the diamond engagement ring tradition in Western cultures is equivalent to the bridewealth tradition. So, the question was raised as to whether I also advocate for the abolishment of the engagement ring custom. It’s an interesting question because I’d never really thought about engagement rings like that.
But are the traditions really the same thing?
On the surface, the two customs look pretty similar. In both cases, a man usually gives up something of monetary value in exchange for a woman’s hand in marriage. However, a closer look at the customs reveals vast differences...
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