I hope you are all doing well! In celebration of Black History Month we are kicking off our content this month with a take on African traditional weddings, we have Josna, AKA 'Miss Quibocolo' who is shedding light on the 'Dot' - which is part of the traditional wedding ceremony that many Angolan and Congolese people take part in. We have also teamed up with Josna, and created a great 2 minute video on our IGTV which you will be able to view on the Kingdom of Kongo instagram page as well as ours, and it is also accessible at the bottom of this blog post.
It would be great if you are from a different country and you recognise some of these traditions, to comment below and let us know how your tradition is similar! If you want us to cover your culture's traditional wedding process too, just let us know in the comments!
Be sure to view Josna's exclusive feature with SSOZINA x Kingdom of Kongo on the 'dot' topic. You can view the full video on our IGTV on Instagram here. Some snippets will be posted throughout this blog post.
WHAT IS A 'DOT' ?
Pronounced “dote” this is the traditional wedding ceremony. While it varies depending on if you’re from the north or south of Congo (and thus what tribe your parents are originally from), the general gist is that this is the party! The party, and most importantly, the presentation of gifts from the bridegroom to the bride’s family. This is also the reason why many couples in Congo don’t get officially married for years, if ever. Dots can be a costly ceremony. After a man has announced his intention to marry the woman, her father, uncle and mother get together and come up with a list of items that the husband-to-be must bring their family. Back home in Africa, this can be everything from goats and chickens to expensive suits, pots, machetes, and lanterns (Chan, 2015) However, over in the west, these items are replaced with more practical items such as crates of alcohol, yards of traditional cloth, blankets, clothing, sometimes money for cattle back to be purchased for the bride's family back home.
The dot usually takes place during the 2nd stage of marriage. It’s also common sometimes for the couple or the family to combine the presentation & the dot, this is the only time that you might witness a dot would take place during the 1st stage. The following stages, being the civil and white wedding.
What type of responsibilities are given to each party during the dot?
Bride: half way during the dot she’s brought out to be identified by her partners family. Sometimes the roles are reversed and she has to identify her partner (depends on the family/tribe). She also has to accept the envelope containing her bride price money. She is then asked whether her father should accept the goods her partner brought along with the envelope. This symbolic gesture shows the acceptance of the bride. Her saying yes allows the festivities to continue and if not, the dot can not go on. There are also other symbolic gestures made by the bride, such as feeding her groom a drink.
Groom: The male has not role during the dot other than to identify his partner. Most of his responsibilities are prior to the dot which consists of organising the requests gifts give in the list.
Speaker/Mpovis (family representative): their responsibility is to represent the family during the debate, they do the most talking & debating. They introduce each family to each other, they are the middle men between the families & also take the responsibility of reading the list out.
Dads: they are to debate on the gifts given and to relay their enquiries and opinions to the mpovi.
Fathers sister ('tata mwasi'): The Tata mwasi is usually the eldest aunty and the eldest sister of the father on the females side. Her responsibility is to greet the males side at the door & collect the entrance money. Between this time it is tradition for the Tata mwasi to banter by giving the males family a hard time coming in. Depending on the tribe, the Tata mwasi is also required to carry her nieces partner on her back and carry him into the house.
All the females on the brides side of the family are the entourage. Their responsibilities are in the kitchen cooking and also to be the ambiance whilst bringing in the bride.
"it has nothing to do with selling your daughter"
Does not doing the dot "invalidate" the marriage?
For me personally, not doing the dot completely invalidates a marriage.
Traditional marriages entail so many imperative symbols & customs (such as the biting of kola nuts, pouring of wine on the floor or drinking of wine sometimes substituted for soft drink) that not only honour both families but also our ancestors too. Not doing a dot dishonours them. It has nothing to do with "selling your daughter", this is a myth - the traditional engagement ceremony honours the families and allows them to commit to each other on the basis of the marriage. Each family member gets to bare witness and plays a vital role just by being in attendance.
In some Angolan and Congolese churches, it is required that you have a traditional wedding before you can have your white wedding. This shows that there’s still importance that has to be given to traditional weddings.
What do you guys think? Do you agree? Is your culture similar or is this new to you - let us know in the comments!
WATCH OUR FULL EXCLUSIVE FEATURE ON IGTV WITH JOSNA HERE:
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Joelle & Claude's Congolese Wedding: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/300263500153858334/
Mother and daughter at Congo Wedding: