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Cow Giving
Wednesday, 28 January 2015 Written by Doris Boroje

Cow Giving

This past weekend was very important for one of our teachers, Jean Paul and his wife Speciose, who also works at Padri Vjeko school, as well as for their whole family. You see, in Rwanda there is a tradition related to weddings and cows and it goes something like this.

Before he got married, Paulo had to give a cow to his future bride’s parents. Here it’s called “bride price”, but it doesn’t mean that he bought the bride. Instead, it is a sign of great respect towards the bride and a sign that she is very much cherished by her future husband. Furthermore, it demonstrates his ability as a husband to take care of his future family.

Cow Giving

The cow stays with his wife’s parents until it calves, and then it is returned to its original owner, in this case to our Paul, while the calf stays with the wife’s family. The returning of the cow is always an important event in the village and all the neighbours get invited to participate in the celebration of the occasion.

It is important to realize that Rwanda is a very poor country, so the fact that guests are served meat, which is rarely on the menu, tells us a lot about the importance of the event. And this time this wonderful event was not just about one, but two cows! …one that was being returned by the ‘in-laws’ and yet another one that Paulo received as a gift from a neighbour.

Cow GivingCow Giving

You see, Paulo’s father, now deceased, had given a cow to this neighbour and now this neighbour was returning the favour to Paulo. But, alas, it would prove to be nearly impossible to feed two cows, so Paulo will probably ‘gift’ one of them to a family member and afterwards (when perhaps he can afford to feed it) get a calf in return.

Both families had a representative who spoke on their behalf. After their introductory speeches and some conversation the host’s representative presented a gift to the other, to acknowledge that he was greeted and had successfully conveyed the message. In the meantime the cows were taken to the barn and then the guests were served food and drinks. Of course, as always, all this was accompanied by traditional music and dancing.

Translated by Branimir Mlakić
Edited by Valerie Kae Ken

Father Vjeko Center

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