THE ROLE OF AFRICAN TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE RITES ON MARITAL STABILITY: A CASE OF THE ABAGUSII PEOPLE, KENYA
The major purpose of this study was to explore the role of African traditional marriage rites on marital stability; in a case study of the Abagusii ethnic community from Kisii and Nyamira counties, Kenya. The study was based on the Symbolic Interactionism (SI) theory of Social Psychology and adopted the use of narrative qualitative research methods. The study facilitated the gathering of data of narratives related to culture and the rituals with regard to the marriage of the Abagusii ethnic community. The qualitative study used a focus group of 12 elderly people from the Gusii community who were selected through purposeful and snowball sampling. Research instruments included interview schedules, the data was then analysed using qualitative within the purview of the research questions and the marriage rites themes. Focus group discussions were used to identify issues and interpretations. A discussion guide was used to ask general questions. The qualitative study findings indicated that various Kisii traditional marriage rites were practised to sustain marital stability. These include initiation and mentorship into adulthood, courtship, aided partner search, in-laws’ visitations, introduction ceremonies, payment of bridal wealth, wrestling matches, weddings and post-wedding marriage rituals. Finally, the qualitative study found out that traditional marriage rites are believed to circumvent divorce and contribute to marital stability. Marriage sustainability was through celebrations and communal support. The study recommends that there is a need to revive the African traditional marriage practices and marriage therapists can incorporate this perspective during marital counselling sessions.