A civic perspective of the nature and scope of bride-price among the Mambwe people of Mbala district of Zambia’s Northern province.

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Musonda, Francis
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The University of Zambia
The purpose of the study was to investigate the nature and scope of bride-price among the Mambwe people of Zambia’s Mbala District of Northern Province, from a civic perspective. The research employed a qualitative approach. A qualitative based research approach was used because of being particularly concerned with the way in which people understand and give meaning to their social world. A Case Study design was applied. The target population included marriage counsellors, village headmen and marriage men and women. A sample of 26 participants was used which comprised of four (4) marriage counsellors, four (4) village headmen and eighteen (18) married men and women. Purposive sampling procedure was used in the selection of participants. The research employed focus group discussion and structured interview as research instrument. The researcher employed thematic analysis method complimented by in-depth explanations presented in narrative form as obtained from the participants, summarizing of key findings as well as the interpretations. The study found bride-price to be a historical cultural practice that is used to validate or solemnize marriages. Bride-price is paid in form of money or in kind. In traditional societies bride-price has had a cultural significance of legitimizing marriages. The study revealed a number of positive implications that included, sign of respect and honour, sign of love and act as a unifier and solidification of marriages. However, the findings revealed that bride-price has had been changing i.e. it has been “dynamic” from time to time, and because of modernization the practice has been influenced by social, economic and cultural changes. Its historical integrity, benefits and its significance have been affected. From the research findings, bride payment is linked to be among the causes of gender inequalities in households by contributing to male dominance in marriages, women sexual abuse in marriages, limited decision making for women and economic burden on the part of men. The study recommends that the government through line ministries in collaboration with traditional leaders and civil society organisations should come up with sensitisation programmes for married people and those intending to marry and explain the cultural significance of brideprice. Government should also come up with legislative laws on the minimum and maximum amount to pay as bride-price. The act of refunding bride-price in ill-health marriages has to be abolished. Keywords: Bride-price, marriage, civic, masculinity, femininity and customs.
Bride price--Zambia. , Marriage customs and rites--Zambia. , Zambia--Social life and customs.