CELEBRATING THE BRIDE BULL [Ekumwa]

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This is the most celebrated occasion among the Turkana people. Not only does the ceremony signify the unification of the bride and the bridegroom’s families but also the brands(ngimacharin) between the two couples. The Bride Bull as I put it, marks the Handing over ceremony of the Bride to the Groom’s family. The ceremony is done after finalizing the dowry payment as required by the groom’s parents. This ceremony has earned popularity nowadays where most people consider after the civil or religious wedding.

some people in the modern days opt to undergo both traditional and modern weddings

During the ceremony(ekumwa), the bull is given accompanied by a lactating cow and her calf, a Ram and a she-goat meant for the mother-in-law. On other occasions, the bride bull is accompanied by other rams for the stepmother referred to as Lokimul. The bull is killed between 11 a.m to 2pm using a spear by the elder of the groom’s age group assisted by men to skin. After skinning where the men would cut the meat into parts and carry it to the mother in-law’s hut while singing ceremonial songs like;

Achamit Itokanga, Itokanga!

Achamit Akimuk, Iyeya!

Taito kiboikinos, Iyeya!

Kidaru Akiru Tomech!

From the song, the message passed is that the skin from the bull would be used to cover the mother-in-law’s hut to provide shelter during the rainy season. The Women from the Groom’s family join the men carrying the meat as they Dance towards the in-law’s hut. The elderly men gather under the shades of trees within the vicinity feasting on the meat, a share known as “Alakany” meant for the Age group of the Father-in-law. As the people feast on the meat from the rams the beef would be cooked in the middle of the compound by women which would later be served to the groups assigned to different shades from the trees in the surrounding.

The Turkana traditional ceremonies are engaging in nature – those actively participating in the ceremony and the passive participants. Usually, those not actively taking part in the ceremony would form dancing groups according to their ages and gender. While the active participants take part in skinning and preparing delicacies from the beef- roasted, boiled, and fried the other participants would form traditional group dances known as Ekimwomar, Edonga, and Akinyiek. Ekimwomwar usually involves both genders dominated by the old while Akinyiek involves men only especially middle-aged due to the energy and its vigorous nature. On the other hand, Edonga, a tonic to the soul of any Turkana during these events. It is the main dance during the ceremony cutting across all ages. The dance usually attracts people from all walks of life.

As tradition requires, the attire for the event is traditional with black, white and grey ostrich feathers with headgears while others with the men traditional hats, all adorned in the traditional clothing made from animal skin. The Dances would be accompanied by the sounds of whistles, Trumpets and giggles from women. After the dances before sunset, a wide traditional mat made from cows’ hides would be brought and spread in the middle of the compound, wooden curved bowls known as atubwa filled with white ochre known as Emunyen set for the ceremonial ritual.

The bride, bridegroom, and the families would assemble forming a curve facing the East direction. The eldest mother, the aunts and uncles of the bride would be smeared the white ochre on the faces, chests and legs as they walk towards the East direction from where the sun rises. The ochre is a sign of purity while facing the east direction from where the sunrises are symbolical to the new dawn for the bride and the groom as well as the reunion between the two families.

After the ritual, a chorus is performed four times as they walk to the place where the couples would spend the night. The chorus would go;

“Awi ka Apakang Ya! [ That is my Father’s Home] x4

As soon as they arrive at the place, the couples would be ushered in where they will have to spend the night until the following morning. Nonetheless, the bride’s family would send a Ram to the groom’s family members referred to as “Nakopir” or the evening meal. Throughout the night the groom’s family members would protect the fresh skin from the bull to the following morning when the Bride’s family gives Rams or a bull in exchange for the cowhide an occasion referred to as Alunyiet meaning something in exchange or Ngakejen angibaren which means the animal’s footprints. It is after the exchange in the morning that, the Fresh skin meant for the mother in-law is spread out to dry.

In the afternoon of the second day, the bride leads the donkey loaded with Meat to the Groom’s home accompanied by the other family members wherein the following morning another ritual known as akinyonyo is performed. Here, the ornaments/costumes for the bride would be changed an indication that she belongs to the groom’s family and would be adorned with new ornaments made from beads and new traditional clothes.

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