New government directives in Rwanda maintain that traditional and church ceremonies are not allowed.
Civil marriage ceremonies will resume, but should not exceed 15 persons.
“Other related ceremonies including church services and receptions are not permitted,” reads in part a resolution of the Cabinet meeting convened on Monday and chaired by President Paul Kagame.
Despite constitution recognising only civil marriage between consenting male and female adults, both religion and cultural traditions still have a wider influence on how Rwandans start families.
Traditionally, a Rwandan man is required to pay dowry to the family of the bride as a condition to officially prove and seek a hand in marriage.
Dowry can range from Rwf500,000 and Rwf1,500,000 or even more. Brides feel comfortable and a sense of worthiness when dowry is paid.
In several marriages, the parents of brides have set dowry between one cow and 10 cows.
The costing may also depends on the economic and education level of the bride.
Last year, retired Anglican Bishop John Rucyahana said that some new practices in marriages today are symptoms of a corrupt society; “It’s neither of Rwandan Culture nor Christian.”
Bishop Rucyahana considered this dowry arrangement as bribing future son-in-law to marry your daughter. “A daughter is not a commodity neither a livestock for sale,” Rucyahana insists.
Venantie Mukasine, a resident of Rwamagana district, was traditionally married in the 1950’s.
“We were very proud to be accompanied by a cow valued as dowry behind us and brides carried on traditional stretchers,” Mukasine remembers her golden days.
Under the civil marriage process, couples just agree to start a family and then walk into the nearest Sector Office with witnesses on either side, take oath before a public notary then pay Rwf10,000 and are pronounced husband and wife.
The couple then appends their signatures in a huge hardcover book and walk back home to establish their new family.
This is required by the law, which has made it so cheap, convenient and quick for willing and consenting adults (man and woman) to start a family.
Nyirabikari Stephanie, 75, lives in Kamonyi District, South Province. He argues that the girls’ parents shouldn’t demand for lots of money because only love counts.
“If possible the girl shouldn’t even remain stuck at home because the boy can’t afford the dowry instead the girl would go without offering anything to parents as they love each other,” says Nyirabikari.
Meanwhile, Rwanda Academy of Language and Culture (RALC) wants Rwanda to preserve the ancient culture wedding practices because they are all important and significant.