Roora – A key component of the Zimbabwe traditional wedding!
If you are preparing for a traditional wedding in Zimbabwe, you must know about Roora. According to the Shona dictionary, Roora means to acquire a wife. This word is also loosely interchanged with bride price or dowry. A Zimbabwe traditional wedding is incomplete without Roora, as this component of the wedding defines the levels of respect and regulates the relationships between the two families involved.
Under Shona traditional customary law, Roora is mandatory. How, then is Roora determined?
- The groom’s family must first select a Munyai, a messenger who will convey the news of the proposed marriage to the family of the bride. The Munyai is usually a close friend or relative of the groom.
- As the Munyai approaches the bride’s village, he positions himself strategically and shouts “Matsvakirai Kuno!” Any villagers who hear him chase him away as they attempt to whip him. After a while, however, he is allowed into the village to deliver his message without fear of being attacked.
- The Munyai then passes on his message to the family elders (the woman’s uncles). The elders meet to deliberate on the issue, and to set the level of Roora to be paid. Once they decide, beer is brewed and shared with the Munyai to formalize the agreement. The Munyai then returns to the groom’s family and presents the list of items to them.
- Cattle in Zimbabwe are considered to be a significant sign of wealth, and as such, Roora must consist of a specified amount of cattle. The groom is however not expected to hand over all the cattle immediately, but to pay off the ‘debt’ over many years.
- Apart from Roora, other gifts are included in the list, i.e., shoes, hats, suits, and blankets for the bride’s parents.
- Examples of the payments that the bride’s family may ask for include:
- Makandinzwa Nani (how did you know that I have a daughter) – the equivalent of USD 2000
- Makukidza Dumbu (for the mother) – the equivalent of USD 2000
- Rusambo (highest portion of Roora) -10 cattle or the equivalent (approximately USD 10000)
- Mombe Yehumai (for the mother) – the equivalent of USD 1500
- Mombe Yechimanda (if the girl is a virgin) – USD 1000
Contemporary societal views on Roora
- Currently, several young men see Roora as an out-of-date practice. Traditional elders, however, view Roora as an integral part of the Zimbabwe traditional wedding, as Roora binds families together for life.
- Young girls, however, see the payment of Roora as a sign of the young man’s’ commitment to the marriage. Roora is however not viewed as payment for the bride, but an exchange of valuables to legitimize the marriage and a sign of thanksgiving for having raised a beautiful woman.
- Interestingly, virginity is considered to be of great value in societies where the price of Roora is high. In other words, the groom parts with a higher amount of wealth when he marries a virgin.
In conclusion, Roora is synonymous with the Zimbabwe traditional wedding. If you still want to have a white wedding, not to worry- as soon as the ceremony of paying Roora is complete, you will be permitted to set the date!