This is not dowry! Kikuyu elder wants soda, beer banned during ruracio

Kikuyu elder Njoroge wa Kimani, 89 from Murengeti, Kiambu County. [Photo: James Mwangi]
  • A Kikuyu elder and traditions’ custodian wants soda, beer banned during ruracio
  • According to Kimani, the revered tradition is being ruined by modern ways
  • He castigated an emerging ruracio trend whereby beer is taking over muratina

How did soda become part of Kikuyu dowry rite? This is the question a Kikuyu elder and its traditions’ custodian Njoroge wa Kimani poses, saying the revered tradition is being ruined by modern ways.

Kimani, 90 who runs Wakanini Cultural Centre in Murengeti, Kiambu laments the rapidly changing ways of conducting ruracio (Kikuyu dowry).

“I don’t understand how soda became part of this tradition. When and how? Who sanctioned this? It even irks me a lot when I see dowry procession with women carrying crates of soda. This is not our tradition” laments Kimani.

The soft drinks trend started with teetotallers, especially women and relatives to the bride demanding sodas besides lesos and other items and with time it has become a norm.

Mary Wanjiku, 76 admits women popularised sodas in ruracio but unintentionally. “We have small children and women who spend hours in the kitchen and such need to quench thirst and not with water or tea but something different and uncommon. This is how sodas were entrenched” she says.

On his part Kimani says his issues with the soft drinks is that they have become part of dowry ceremony yet if they are needed at all should be at the side-lines and away from the ritual’s grounds.

“In the olden days those who did not consume alcohol drank porridge. No one is forced to take brew but if they insist on offering sodas they should be kept away, shared out and be consumed away from the venue of dowry rites. What we can allow is brew, uji, water or soup from the slaughtered ceremonial animals” he warns.

The elder also castigates an emerging ruracio trend whereby beer is taking over muratina which is the only needed brew for the ceremony.

Two common and locally brewed beers have become synonymous with ruracio because they are affordable besides they intoxicate revellers quickly.

“Modern generation should know that beer is to liven the event but the brew meant for the ceremony is our traditional muratina.

At no time commercially brewed alcohol will replace muratina but such is allowed to extend celebrations. I have never accepted to spearhead any ritual without muratina being part of it. That is a prerequisite, even a calabash of it can be enough” he says.

Kimani also lashes out at sections of clerics he says have waged war traditions, misadvising their faithful to dump traditions like dowry or dishonouring some demands of dowry ceremony.

“These rites have been around for decades and can draw curse if they are disregarded. Why Pastors tell their members not to offer brew for dowry and when such are shadowed by curse they abandon them” he says