No show: Wedding stopped as bride’s family demands cow and calf

A cow and her calf. Catholic catechist were told to deliver dowry before being allowed to tie the knot. [Courtesy]
A wedding between a Catholic catechist and his would-be bride failed to take place after the woman's family demanded dowry.

The groom was literally abandoned at the altar, as the bride failed to turn up in church for the ceremony at at Chesogor Catholic Church in Uasin Gishu County.

The bride's relatives demanded immediate payment of a cow and calf, and the bride, who was already in a wedding gown, agreed with them.

The family of Evaline Jelagat was adamant that their daughter would only leave her father's house after the bridegroom David Etabo delivers a cow and a calf as part of dowry.

All the wedding plans had been finalised and in line with tradition, Mr Etabo had taken the front pew waiting for his bride to arrive. Little did he know that the much-awaited moment would not come.

The congregation, which doubled up as witnesses, became anxious when the bride took long to arrive in church.

“We waited from 10am to 1pm for Jelagat and her family members to arrive in church but in vain. I could see the groom Etabo unsettled as he attempted to make frantic calls,” said Sarah Sitienei, a village elder who in September played a crucial role in accompanying Etabo to his would-be in-laws for a hand in marriage.

The delay also caught the attention of Father Jacob Tenai, who was to facilitate the union.

He quickly summoned other church leaders to go to the bride’s home to find out the reason for the lateness. The home is 300m from the church.

According to Sitenei, their arrival was met with stiff objection from the bride’s aunts and mother who insisted that their daughter would only step out of the house after they receive the dowry.

Deaf ears

“Attempts by the men of the cloth to convince them to release the bride, who was fully dressed in a wedding gown, fell on deaf ears. Interestingly, when we went for their daughter’s engagement, we had agreed to part with four cows after the wedding. The hard stance taken by the family shocked us,” said the village elder.

He added: The church pleaded with the family to give the parish one week so they could bring the dowry but they refused. The bride, on the other hand, sided with her relatives, saying she would not go to church until the demands were met.” 

The congregants later concluded the day’s mass and trooped to the reception grounds at Chesogor Secondary School, where they feasted on food that had been prepared for the event before heading to their homes.

Etabo's family members, who had travelled from Lodwar town, were astonished.

Area assistant chief Peter Maiyo said the incident was the first of its kind locally.

“I know the two lovebirds. Mr Etabo comes from a humble background and he has been working hard as a catechist to make ends meet,” he said.

Dowry PaymentWedding StoppedEvaline JelagatChesogor Catholic Church