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Church Leaders Speak About Dowry in African Culture

Church Leaders Speak About Dowry in Africa

In late 2015, Church leaders in Africa spoke candidly about the practice of ‘mahari’ or paying a dowry conflicts with Gospel teachings.

“By virtue of our membership in the kingdom we covenanted with the Lord that we would abandon our old ways that conflict with the gospel of Jesus Christ and uphold and sustain those practices that testify of Christ,” Elder Frederick Akinbo of the Seventy states in the 5-minute video release by the Church to accompany the news.

Remarks from Elder Dallin H. Oaks highlighted the video.

“Lobola or bride price is a cultural tradition that seriously interferes with young men and women keeping the commandments of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said. Mormon Newsroom provided the following explanation for the dangers requiring a dowry can have on living gospel principles.

In the early days, dowry or ‘mahari’ as this is known in East Africa, was often paid in form of goats, cattle, alcohol and even honey. Some communities required the payment be done a few days before marriage while other payments may take years before or even after the marriage has been solemnised.

However, this practice has now been more ‘commercialised’ in modern times, with some families demanding payment of huge amounts which often leave the husband in debt. Some prospective husbands are also postponing enjoying the blessings of marriage because they do not have the means to pay. The practice is also leading to some couples choosing to elope or stay in non-solemnised unions. In recent years, the Kenyan government has also recognised the dangers that dowry payments have on societies. While not criminalising the practice, Kenyan law provides other opportunities to have legal marriages without the obligation to pay dowries.

You can watch the entire video below.


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