The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favour from the LORD. Proverbs 18:22


This is a traditional Kalenjin wedding ritual that involves the negotiation of the bride’s dowry. The bride and her family are in charge of all the expenses on this day because it is considered to be the bride’s day. They are two ceremonies in one, the first one is the bride negotiating the price which involves the elders from the bride and groom side together with their parents and other family representatives. For any woman, it is a divine joy to be given away to her husband by her parents in a ceremonious yet beautiful way.

My best friend and I had been planning for months about this day which was scheduled to be on the twenty-sixth day of December in Kapsabet. I have always been a country girl, I have to admit the number of times I have visited the countryside are countable. This made Mavis a bit sceptical if I would survive a whole week with her in the countryside. I had to travel a few days earlier before the planned date because she needed my help with some final preparations.


Mavis has been my best friend since 2014, more of my soulmate and human diary. We met at The Boma Hotel over a brunoise carrot cut and we became inseparable ever since. I had seen her grow from the time we met to this moment when she had decided to start this new path for herself. It had been a blessing being her partner throughout her journey and now she had to add another crucial partner to guide her too through her journey.

Everything was set for the long-anticipated day. We were in Eldoret town having lunch before we went to Kapsabet town. As victor and Mavis sat across me I could see how much they were in love. It’s funny how when you meet your right rib you all begin to portray similar characters. Victor was a man worth admiring, a few months after he and Mavis met he was sure that he wanted to spend his life with her. He didn’t hesitate to do things right and two years down the line they were both making it formal. They belonged to each other and I was one of the people rooting for this relationship even when things became thick. It then dawned on me the element both of them had is that they never gave up on each other when times got tough, they were extremely patient with and they tried their best to understand each other even when at times the best response was to fight each other. It had been a long day, we were doing final preparations for the next day which was the long-awaited celebration.

By the time we got to Kapsabet, the rain had subsided. It had rained heavily for the past few days and all we could do was hope that the clouds will not pour the next day, or till the ceremony was over and done with. There was so much excitement in the house. Mavis’s family embraced her and were proud of her that she had decided to take this life-changing step.


That night we ate tripes (matumbo) and I remember her aunties warning her against eating the tripes because it would rain heavily on her special day, this was more of superstition so we didn’t take the warning seriously. That night there was a heavy downpour that escalated to early the next morning. The village women woke up at 4 am all roads leading to Mavis’ home. They began to prepare the delicacies that would be eaten throughout the whole day. The event planner arrived very early but couldn’t do the proper setup of the home compound till the rains subsided. As expected, the area was a bit muddy, but the show had to go on no matter what.

Mavis and her maid of honour had two sets of clothes. One which was to be worn during the bride price negotiations and the other to be worn during the final ceremony. The Maid of honour played a very important role. She had to be someone who was completely conversant with Kalengin traditions and she was to act as a witness and sign a document once the bride price was agreed upon.

The bridal price negotiation began at around 11 am due to the heavy rains. A representative for Mavis’ family, Kimutai, welcomed Victor’s family and the negotiations began. Normally the number of people who would be allowed into the main house for the bridal negotiations would depend on the size of the house. In this scenario, Victor, his parents one of his uncles, one of his aunties, elders of the family, and his brother were allowed into the house to conduct the negotiations.

As soon as the necessary parties had settled in the living room, Kimutai cleared his throat and asked “What has brought you to this homestead?”


“Well! We were passing by and we saw a very healthy good looking cow that we would like to borrow?” Korir answered, he was the representative for Victor’s family. A formal introduction would then be done from both parties their family name, the clan they come from and the animal symbol they identify with.

” We have very beautiful women in this homestead. Given a chance to identify your woman, will you be able to identify her?” Kimutai asked.

” Yes I would,” Victor responded while he nodded his head, an illustration that he was here for serious business.

This question normally was addressed to the groom to ensure that he was content with the woman he chose to be his bride. Several women were paraded before him, each taking their turn, and as expected Victor declined all the women and settled to wait for his betrothed. Mavis was wearing a red kitenge dress with black detail and when she entered the room to be identified the room was filled with ululations.

Once Mavis was identified as “the one” she allowed her elders to proceed with the marriage negotiations and she was asked to stay in the room with us, her maids.

It was now the turn of the representative from Victor’s side to speak.

” We are willing to offer a cow which is brown in colour and its calf(this was a compulsory price), a young calf and a bull,” Korir said.

There was pin-drop silence in the room.

“We do not agree to these terms, do you want to be sent away without your bride?,” Kimutai asked. “You see in the Nandi community, the bride price is five cows, nothing less than that,”.

“Okay! We are willing to add one more cow. In total, we would have given you five cows. In addition to all these, the mother to the groom would also want to give a sheep to the bride’s mother,”

Kimutai looked at his people and they all nodded their heads with smiles on their faces.

“Yes, we now agree to these terms,” he said with a smile on his face. A timeline was agreed to when the livestock would be delivered to Mavis’ homestead.

After the price was agreed upon there was the giving of various gifts to symbolize that the negotiations were a great success. Mavis was then called back into the room, she and her beloved stood face to face with each other and she pinned a brooch on the left side of his shirt and he did the same to the dress she was wearing, this symbolized the deal between both parties had already been sealed and her maid of honour also signed the document. Mavis and her Maid of honour then retired back to the room where the rest of the maids were patiently waiting.

A set of cups and gourds were brought into the living room and each man who had participated in the negotiation was given a cup and a gourd. The first man to be gifted was Victor’s father and his uncles, his brother, and finally, the elders that accompanied his family. The women were then given liquid vegetable oil on plates and everyone who took part in the negotiation was served “Mursik”(their traditional signature drink). The Mursik was a symbolism that the ceremony can proceed to the next level. Victor’s Uncle began singing and Mavis was called to be paraded outside before the guests who had come for the ceremony as a sign that she had agreed to be married to her beloved. She was given some lesos and came back inside to prepare for the second part of the ceremony.

We all were ready for the second part of the ceremony. The bridesmaids stood in two lines with Mavis in the middle. She looked mesmerizing, her dress her make-up the finishing on her hair, every tiny detail about her was perfect. She looked a bit nervous but excited at the same time. If you want to know the essence of time ask a groom and a bride waiting to be united for life. We all danced alongside her together with most of the women from her village moving towards the tent which was allocated to us. It was muddy but none of us seemed to care, our friend, daughter, sister, a neighbour was getting married and this was the only important thing.

The ceremony then began with opening prayers from a preacher who sanctified and blessed the union. Relatives from both sides expressed their joy brought by this union. Each of them took time to give Mavis and victor reasonable advice that would guide them throughout their marriage. What caught my eye is the number of times both families gifted each other as a sign of love, acceptance, and appreciation. Victor’s folks gifted Mavis’ family with duvets and this was also reciprocated by Mavis’ family. The grandparents from both sides were given blankets, the groomsmen were given Maasai shukas and the maids were given lesos.


Another significant gift was the giving of attire to the bride. Mavis’ parents gave her two brand new dresses and a pair of new shoes. This was to symbolize they have sent her well in good health and raised her to be a responsible woman and Victor’s family should vow to maintain and keep her. Victor’s parents also gave her two pairs of clothes and a pair of shoes to signify that they have accepted the responsibility and have taken Mavis as their daughter.

The guests then stood in a circle with Mavis inside the circle. There was a lot of merry and dancing as people took their turn to shower the bride with all forms of gifts from money to household equipment. All these gifts were a sign of goodwill as she began a new life with her husband.

I am grateful that my best friend chose me to be a part of this important phase in her life. And I wish her all the best in her new union.

“Kweli ni raha kupenda na kupendwa!”