In Tanzania, arranged marriages are a thing of the past while marrying from other clans is common. Marriage traditions vary because of the different communities making up Tanzania. However, one thing is constant – the man pays dowry to the bride’s family which includes local brew, livestock, money, clothing among other things.
Most weddings take place on Sunday and on Shawwal which is the 10th month on the Lunar Islamic calendar. The word Shawwal means to carry or lift. It is during this month that female camels carry their fetuses.
Weddings without the bride
In Muslim weddings, it is a tradition for the wedding ceremony to happen without the bride in attendance. The bride dresses up but is segregated from the celebration. The bride and groom do not see each other.
Relatives and family attend the wedding and dance the night away while the bride waits for her husband in their matrimonial bed and with that, the Tanzanian honeymoon begins. It is at this moment that the bride and groom see each other for the first time.
Same-sex marriages in Tanzania
Nyumba Ntobnu meaning house of women is practiced by the Kuria people whereby a widow marries another woman so as to ensure they have a child to pass the widow’s property to if she did not have a male descendant.
Since homosexuality is banned in the country, the two women do not have a romantic or sexual relationship. The younger woman is free to have other sexual partners. Most of these women ran away from abusive relationships. The children of the younger woman belong to the older woman’s family.
Age of consent in Tanzania
This marriage is purely for safety purposes when it comes to inheritance and also in cases of abusive relationships.
The Marriage Act of 1971 allowed for child marriages to happen. For girls, the age limit was 15 with the parents’ consent while for the boys it was 18. This law changed in 2016 and set the legal age to marry to 18 years for both genders. This change in law was followed by the Msichana Initiative that advocated for girls to receive their right to education in Tanzania.
Expulsion of girls from school
Tanzania allows for school heads to expel married girls and the chances of girls going back to school after they have dropped out are very unlikely.
Civic marriage with a Tanzanian
If you are a foreigner, to have a civic marriage to a local you must produce the following documents;
- A certificate of no impediment showing that you were never married before and if you were, you need to produce divorce certificates. If you are widowed, you need to produce a death certificate.
- You need to go to the nearest district commissioner and state or notify them of your intention to marry or get married. Once you are there, you need to produce two passport photos each, a copy of passports that are notarized, and certificates of no impediment.
- You will pay a small fee and then wait for 21 days for anyone with a complaint to bring it forward. If you want to skip this process, you can apply for a special license.
After the 21 days elapse, you can tie the knot with your significant other. Afterward, the embassy recommends that you get an international certificate of marriage.
The fee is 22,000 Tanzania shillings for you to be entered into the register of foreign marriages and 7,000 Tz shillings to get an International marriage certificate.492