Ruracio is a cultural dance, not an opportunity to flex

By - Jan 1st 1970

For some reason that we cannot fathom, men from the lakeside can’t keep their hands off our girls. This month of June, a tall dark and moneysome son of the lake is bringing some goats to my clan. Earlier this week, he asked yours truly to give him some tips about our dowry process. Here we go.

Our dowry settlement is a process, not an event. Bringing all the required items at once is considered outright rude, if not ostentatious. Despite our elders’ love for meat, a man should never take meat as gift to his in-laws. This edict was issued by Gikuyu himself before he breathed his last. By extension, most of the old men from the mountain haven’t developed a taste for fish. Actually, some like my uncle still consider fish a relative of the snake and have a strong distaste for them.

For these reasons, fish doesn’t feature in our menu. Our rivers may be full of mud fish but our boys have never cared to learn how to fish. By the same token, no man should bring his in-laws some ostentatious whiskeys that are worth a whole ox. The taste buds of elders from the mountain aren’t that polished. Instead, a crate of that beer that good ol’ Emilio loved will suffice.

During the actual dowry negotiations, the girls’ uncles will praise her education credentials liberally, pointing out how she acquired a ‘difroma’ in a course they can’t pronounce. A wise man shouldn’t respond to such with a counterattack about how their son has a PhD in molecular biology since it’s not a contest.

Instead, one can politely point out that the two met in college. The dowry process is normally littered with bothersome aunties and grannies who will refuse to open the gate for the dowry troupe if their palms aren’t greased with notes bearing the image of Jomo. Thus one should always carry some loose cash for such-otherwise he will be a bachelor forever.

The same aunties will swear that the prospective bride once broke a prized family pot as she was drawing water from River Mathioya. When faced with such, one shouldn’t ask for evidence since it’s not a courtroom. Instead, one can politely tell them that’s why you are taking her away so that she doesn’t break any more pots. After the elders’ laughter dies down, downplay the price of the pot that was broken so that you end up paying less for it.

Landing in your in-laws compound in a chopper is an ultimate faux pas. First, it will confuse those tough mamas who sit at the gate and order the vehicles to go back and come back hooting. How does one order a chopper to go back? Two, such overt displays of wealth are frowned upon by our people-they might even think twice about giving out their daughter’s hand in marriage.

Sleeping at one’s in-laws is unheard of. It attracts a hefty fine-and worse, a curse from the ancestors. By extension, one shouldn’t pop in to his in-law’s place anytime he passes by their hood. It’s considered quite unethical. Yet, a man should Mpesa them often.

I take this early opportunity to wish Pacho my college mate success as he brings goats to our hills.

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