1. Dowries are still a part of Swazi marriages, but the dowry goes from the man to the father of the bride. A virgin costs 17 cows. As cows are expensive, it can take a while for men to be able to afford so many, so while women usually marry around age 18, men are closer to 30. A man is free to take as many wives as he can afford.
2. Women are not allowed to eat the brain of a cow, because the men believe that this will make the women smarter than them. They also can’t eat the tongue of the cow because the men believe this will make them talk too much.
3. One village is one family. The family keeps the oldest son and the youngest son, building them homes within the village for when they marry. The sons in the middle go out and start their own villages.
4. It takes six weeks to build one of the traditional huts in which they leave. Eight men spend three weeks framing the house from sticks; then eight women spend an additional three weeks thatching it. The huts must be replaced every three years.
5. When a man dies, his younger brother inherits the man’s wives, but only if the younger brother is already married.
6. If there is a dispute, grandma gets to settle it, and her word is final.
7. Swazi people have rhythm, can sing, and are insanely flexible. I, on the other hand, have none of those traits.
2 Replies to “Seven Things I Learned While Visiting a Traditional Swazi Village”
Those men are definitely smart even if #2 seems ridiculous. Nobody wants a woman smarter than you or talking a lot (or even more than they already do.)
17 cows? I know people who could buy LOTS of virgins. I wonder how much it costs to ship cows to Africa?
Miss you guys.