By Kuzeeko Tjitemisa
OTJONGOMBE – A total of 44 cattle and N$132 000 in cash were collected at Otjongombe Village in the Aminuis Constituency during a mass wedding ceremony on Saturday, during which 22 brides were ‘given away’ in honour of the late Ovaherero Paramount Chief, Kuaima Riruako.
The ceremony took place upon completion of the mourning period for the chief.
Hundreds of members of the Ovaherero community flocked to the village to witness the event that was described as the biggest mass wedding ever of its kind in the historical cultural settings of the Ovaherero or Ovambanderu communities, especially in the wake of the burial of a traditional leader.
It has been a customary practice in the Ovaherero and Ovambanderu tradition for women to be ‘married off’ when an elderly man or chief dies , usually in a low-key ceremony lacking the usual pomp and splendour of the traditional wedding.
This practice is cheaper than – and devoid of the many traditional conventions attached to – a normal traditional wedding.
The big wedding ceremony was held in the traditional way, and families of the bridegroom were obliged to reciprocate the gesture in the form of a handsome fee of N$6 000 and two head of cattle as dowry.
Some of those who married were each other’s cousins – an accepted norm within these communities.
In Otjiherero tradition, children of a brother and sister, known as ovaramue, can marry each other.
During the ceremony, 44 cattle and N$132 000 were collected as lobola.
Among the brides were three of Riruako’s daughters and his niece.
The head of the Riruako family, who hosted the big traditional wedding ceremony, told New Era on Saturday that he was very happy the event was held successfully without any problems.
Ihana Mbaha, a radio presenter at Namibia Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) Otjiherero Service, was among the men who walked away with a woman.
One happy groom whom New Era spoke to said he was very happy that finally he got the chance to marry a woman of his dreams.
Chief Kuaima Riruako died last month, aged 79, after a lengthy illness. He was buried in Okahandja a week ago.