This last weekend Sue and I went to Gweta where a friend of ours handed over lebola to his future in-laws. In Botswana this is called magadi, and it is the equivalent of a bride price or dowry.
Getting married in Botswana is a very traditional process and involves 2 parts. The first is going to the magistrate and signing the legal papers. A couple, however, are only classed as wed once the magadi has been paid and a wedding function has been held. The latter two could in some cases take years owing to the cost.
Our friend getting married is Tsoane Nkarabang is PA to the president and son of our landlord.
The build-up to the handing over the magadi is also a process. It starts with meetings of the bride’s family to decide what the magadi is going to be. These days it is not just cows, in fact in this case the bride’s family didn’t have land for cows, so a monetary value for cows was requested. Items such as suits, clothing, etc were also part of the magadi.
Once the bride’s family have decided on what they want, there is a patlo (magadi negotiation) with the groom’s family. There are then many further meetings where each family discusses logistics with their family.
We have crossed the Pans twice before to get to Gweta ( see Nxai Pan trip and Gweta Trip). However, both times it took us close on 10 hours to do the 250km trip. So this time we decided to drive around the pans – much further, but much quicker.
One further problem was the fact that we were told that there was no fuel in Gweta and there was no ways we were going to get there and back on 1 tank. So we took a jerry can with us (20l) and we were planning to full up at Rakops. Our hearts sank when we pulled into the garage in Rakops to find that they had run out of petrol. We were going to have to find fuel somewhere.
Owing to the lack of water in the area and as it was already getting hot we didn’t expect to see much. We were, however, treated to giraffe, elephants, zebra and plenty of ostrich.
We arrived in Gweta and went straight to Gweta Lodge where we were going to camp. We set up a basic camp then set about getting dressed according to the Batswana culture. For me it was easy, but not what I am used to. Long pants, shoes – with socks, smart shirt and jacket, a far cry from my normal dress of shorts, golf shirt and slops.
Sue had to get a special dress/skirt made and had to wear a white shirt and head cover.
We joined the ceremony at Planet Baobab where they were having a photo shoot.
When we arrived the Groom’s father (our landlord) introduced us by saying that he and his wife lived in Gaborone and they were Tsoane’s parents there, but we were Tsoane’s parents in Letlhakane.
Below are some of the photo’s we took.
From here we went to the bride’s parents home for a luncheon. There was a lot of singing and introductions of family members.
It went on a bit longer than we had predicted so we slipped away for a wildlife experience of a difference.
A wonderful wildlife experience and fuel problems to follow….