Explorations in History and Society

Exploring and Collecting the History of the Somali clan of Hawiye.

Marriage traditions amongst the Molkal

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A Molkal tradition

“If a Molkâl wants a girl, what does he do? If you want her, you and a friend of yours go there. You go to the girl. ‘O girl, come out for us!’ She comes out. Then one talks with her. You agree. ‘Go to my mother.’ ‘My mother, I want your daughter’ tell her! so that she may be informed. And what is said to the father? The matter is hidden from him. ‘Bring the money, I will marry you.’ You take the money, you carry it, you give it to the girl and to her mother. Then you take her away. If you want, you take her far. If she does not want to, you take her to a place in the same country. Then in the morning when dawn breaks, the man to whose house you have taken her comes to you. Then he tells you: ‘Give me the “fol-báhsi”   ‘(literally: ‘save forehead’). You say: ‘Call for me the old man So-and-So.’ ‘I will seek him for you.’ He looks for the girl’s father. Then it is said: ‘Carry two thalers for the “donis”!’   Then you give two thalers for the walaya.’   Then he says: ‘Our people want to eat now that the donis”   has been received. An animal to be butchered is needed.’ An agreement is reached. Then it is said: ‘Marry!’ You marry. The bride is taken to your house. This is our custom. Nothing is said to her father [beforehand]. It would be a disgrace. She is stolen from him. If one were to tell him, he would say: ‘Shall I ask my daughter for you? Take her away!’ When the girl is taken away, she receives [from the bridegroom] ten thalers. It is her ‘billo.’  To the mother are given ‘the two of the mother’: two thalers. To the maternal uncle two thalers. To the paternal uncle nothing is due. To the maternal aunt one thaler. To the slaves that she (the bride) possesses’ one 308   thaler; to the freed one thaler. If she does not have slaves, [the thaler] is given to her brother who has some. ‘Our lady is married. Where is the obol?’ they say and ask.”

The Molkal are a Hawiyya tribe of the Guggundabé group and live along the Webi, among the Badi ‘Addä, whose relatives they are, having as their center the village of Mansur, upstream from Mahaddäy. The matrimonial custom of the Molkal is analogous to that of the marriage by symbolic ‘kidnapping’ of the Abgal in the preceding text. Yet the Molkal marriage has some characteristics of its own. First of all, the agreement for the nuptials is made known to the girl’s mother, to the exclusion of the father, who is not to know anything about the marriage (since the ‘kidnapping’ represents precisely the violence done against the girl’s people, people whom the father personifies). The marriage is actuated by the ‘escape’ of the spouses, who go to stay for one night in a hut chosen in the same village or in another village, the bridegroom paying an agreed-upon gift to the owner of the hut. Then the sacrifice and the nuptial banquet and the payment of the gifts to the various relatives of the bride follow. Parallel to the intervention of the mother, instead of the father, in the agreement for the nuptials, so also does the nuptial gift belong to the maternal uncle, to the exclusion of the paternal uncle. Thus, in this custom of the Molkal, we have a link with the people of the bride’s mother.

Source; Enrico Cerulli “How a Hawiye tribe use to live”

Written by daud jimale

March 15, 2009 at 11:07 pm

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