TRADITIONAL MARRIAGES IN ZAMBIA
A Study in Cultural History
Yizenge A. Chondoka M.A.
Recently I received a present through the post in the form of a hard cover book. “Traditional Marriages in Zambia” is sixty nine pages long and was written by Professor Yizenge A. Chondoka.
The author gives two reasons for writing this book. The first was to promote Zambian culture and the second, to provide an alternative way to of getting married.
The book covers the marriage traditions of eighteen of Zambia’s 72 tribes. These are divided into the patrileneal group (where descent is traced through the father’s relationship), e.g. Lozi, Namwanga, Tumbuka, etc. and the matrileneal group (descent is traced through relationship to the mother), e.g. Bemba, Kaonde, Nsenga, Tonga of Gwembe valley, e.t.c.
By looking at the differences and similarities between the various traditions, the reader gets a good idea of the wide spectrum of beliefs and practices prevalent in Zambian society.
Finally, the meaning of marriage is explored by comparing pre-colonial against post-independence practices.
Written in an easy to read style, the book manages to educate without being too formal. It highlights some of the underlying reasons behind certain practices that may have become unpopular with increasing urbanization but have not ceased to be important.
Marriage has such a central role to play in the propagation of the human race that one would expect that children would be exposed to the collective memory of their ancestors. Instead, couples are pushed into a life-long commitment without a user manual and then get blamed when they don’t get it right.
The consequences of broken marriages can be devastating, especially where children are involved. Sadly, this trend is increasing throughout the world.
Oral traditions sought to remedy this problem of ignorance. This book adds to the arsenal of every newly-wed couple as well as “veterans” who want to live a happy married life. The author’s effort should be commended for providing a valuable insight into the Zambian traditional marriage scene in fairly good detail.
I would have liked to see more detail of the different practices because this kind of information is threatened with extinction as more and more people lose sight of the ways that worked to help people get it right.
The benefits of happy marriages has far ranging consequences beyond couples’ closed doors. This book helps to focus attention on what has been, and helps couples look to a future where they are not repeating the mistakes their ancestors made. It also encourages communication, through words and symbols, to be given a prominent place in every home. The author’s effort should be commended for providing a valuable insight into the Zambian traditional marriage scene in fairly good detail.
I would recommend this book to my friends, family and anybody who wants to gain a deeper understanding of Zambian marriages.
Thanks Robinson for an absorbing book present.
ISBN (paperback) 9982-07-000-Z
ISBN (hard cover) 9982-07-001-X