Many cultures have always thought of marriage as one of partnership but a tribe in Tanzania has taken it one step further.
In the village of Nyamongo of northern Tanzania, some women who reside in the Kurya tribe are redefining the roles of marriage. For married couple Mugosi Maningo & Anastasia Juma, their union is based solely on economics. When the two women met, Maningo’s husband had left her ten years prior because she couldn’t have children. Juma’s marital situation changed when she left her abusive husband after her firstborn, then was left to care for two other children after being left by two other men. Left on their own, these women decided to change their circumstances for their families.
Land ownership is traditionally held by men and most don’t question the validity of it, but in this situation, women are fighting against age-old traditions in order secure their families’ futures. Maningo and Juma are challenging these roles by practicing “nyumba ntobhu”, which means “woman marrying woman”.
Established years ago by Kurya elders, this was done in order to protect women from losing land ownership if their husband died or abandoned them. This practice is allowed by the Kurya tribe’s elders since it benefits the community, but more importantly, it validates the power of women in this village. While there is a Kuryan law which stipulates that only men can inherit land, women get around it by marrying a younger woman who has children or can have sex with a male partner to produce male heirs.
For Maningo, this arrangement has not only ensured her land ownership, but the freedom to choose a partner, and not necessarily a man. While same-sex marriages in the West include a sexual component, this is not seen as an important factor in the Kurya tribe. Maningo and Juma who are both heterosexual, see having male sex partners as a way of bearing children, and a choice they get to make not imposed on them. Having the right to decide whether to take on a male partner reduces the likelihood of abuse, child marriage and genital mutilation on women.
It should be noted that “nyumba ntobhu” marriages are only recognized in tribal law, not Tanzanian law. Not all Tanzanian women practice same-sex marriages, but the incentive of controlling property and having the choice to have a male partner or not, has made this practice an attractive, and often, a safer option. In addition, male partners who help women bear children must honor this tradition and give up their paternal rights.
As someone who was raised in a country where women continue to fight for equality, I can understand the attraction of this practice.
In Tanzania where patriarchy and gender inequality are dominating forces in their culture, same-sex marriages like Maningo and Juma’s are uncommon but necessary for communities to survive. While I know that marriages are not perfect, the concept of “nyumba ntobhu” works for the women of the Kurya tribe. Who knows, maybe one day, “nyumba ntobhu” will not just be a practice but a way of life for Tanzanian women.
Do you know of any similar types of arrangements in your country?
This is an original post written for World Moms Network by Tes Silverman.
To read the article regarding this post, click below:
Photo Attribution: Rasheedhrasheed
Are you a single woman currently enmeshed in the dating scene? Do you find it easy or difficult to find someone to date because of your success or independence? Being a single, independent woman should not be seen as a disadvantage, but in China, women are being targeted for not conforming to what’s seen as part of their tradition.
A recent advertisement has been circulating in China where a woman who may still be single after the age of 25 is labeled as a “Sheng-nu” or “leftover woman”. It is believed that women who have not secured a marriage before a certain age are not as favored by prospective suitors. Those who have been “lucky” enough to be matched are considered to have their future secured, unlike these women.
In this day and age, dating in any culture can be challenging. Finding the right person to connect with takes time and commitment, and should not be forced. The video in question shows how these women are pressured by their parents, going so far as listing profiles of their daughters at a Marriage Market in Shanghai. Shanghai’s Marriage Market at People’s Park has been around since 2004 and has been widely used by parents to find matches for their daughters whom they believe are past their prime. While the Market also lists profiles of men, it is those of women that have raised the alarm to fight back.
The advertisement is meant to bring awareness to the issue of women being discriminated against for not wanting to be part of what has been a tradition in China for many years. Part of the hold on this tradition is the thought that marriage is seen as the ultimate success of increasing one’s familial line. Any delineation from it is seen as turning away from one’s culture. Another reason is that women are seen as unable to fend for themselves, and need a man to support not just her, but her family as well. One heartbreaking segment is of a woman who sits by silently while her mother speaks about the difficulty of finding a mate for her average-looking daughter. Or a father saying that it would bring him heart disease if his daughter couldn’t find “the one” because she’s too picky.
While the idea of finding a mate in any culture is part of the norm, finding one because of a society’s view on unmarried women is subject for concern. The objective of being married off becomes the focus, instead of what they really want for themselves. This is happening even in this modern culture in China, where women work and are able to provide for their families
Shouldn’t women be acknowledged and supported for having the courage to say “no” to a tradition that’s forced upon them by their family and society?
Instead, so many women are caught between a rock and a hard place. To refuse to be matched by their parents would be the ultimate disrespect, but to acquiesce to an age-old tradition may only bring unhappiness.
The women in this advertisement do fight back by letting their parents know via video that they, too, want marriage, but on their own terms. They ask for support instead of disapproval for their success and independence.
As someone who grew up with strict parents, dating was nonexistent for me until I was in college. While I didn’t agree with my parents’ rules about dating then, I appreciate them now. Dating in my twenties gave me the opportunity not just to find the right person right for me, but know what I wanted in life.
The women in this advertisement may initially be seen as victims, but their desire to speak out against being labeled and let others know they deserve to be happy, make them worth remembering.
To see the video regarding this article, clock below:
This is an original post written by Tes Silverman for World Moms Network.
What do women in your culture think about marriage by a certain age?
Photo Credit Wikipedia commons: Traditional Chinese Wedding Ceremony by kanegen kto288 (talk)
This week’s Saturday Sidebar Question comes from World Moms Blog writer Alison Lee. She asked our writers,
“What are your wishes for the new year?”
Check out what some of our World Moms had to say…
The Alchemist of India writes:
“I intend to, hope to, take inspiration from Ruth Wong and complete my novel. The publisher is ready, but I am still working with the plot!
As for World Moms Blog, I am hoping to do some work in Social Good.
Maybe if I can get this novel published in 2013, I will consider my wish granted!” (more…)
This week’s Saturday Sidebar Question is a sequel of the Part – 1 of where the world moms explained how they met their husbands/partners.
“How and where did you meet your husband/partner?”
Check out what some of our World Moms had to say…
Elizabeth Atalay of Massachusetts, USA writes:
“One night my mother was admitted to the emergency room for a complication with her breast cancer that had metastasized, My husband was 3 months into his internship and the intern on call who admitted her, she fell in love right away and spent her entire week in the hospital working with the nurses to set me up with him. (Thankfully I did not know!) By the end of the week, when she was no longer under his care, he asked me out. 9 months later my mother walked me down the aisle when we were married. She lived to know I was pregnant with our first child, and to know her own two children were set with their own families.”
Jennifer Burden of New Jersey, USA writes: “I was living in Hoboken, NJ at the time and working in NYC. My friend Hannah asked if I would show her friend Dave and his friends around NYC because they were coming to town for a long weekend. I was no NYC expert, but took them to the holes in the wall kind of bars that I liked to meet my friends in! Steve and I met at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in midtown, where Hannah and I met up with the guys to take them out. We split up into 3 cabs. Steve was in mine. He jokingly asked me to marry him within minutes of meeting him in the middle of a conversation we were all having. We dated Trans-Atlantic for a year and 3/4’s (seeing each other on average every 6 weeks) and got engaged before ever living on the same continent. We’ll be married 11 years this month and have 2 little girls.” (more…)
Not all, but a great number of countries celebrate Father’s Day on the third Sunday in June. In honor of Father’s Day, we asked our World Moms…
“What is your favorite memory of your father?”
Read on to see what they said…
Amy Hillis of Ohio, USA writes:
“My dad used to restore old gumball machines and he would let me sit at his work bench and help. He would give me little jobs and let me use his tools and paints to make my own ‘creations’.
I realize now that he helped encourage my creativity and provided an escape for me when things with my mother were rough.
My dad is still around, but lives 400 miles away- I still miss doing ‘projects’ with him.”
I did it! After ten years of living in sin, the births of two children, and a seventeen-month engagement, I succeeded in walking down the aisle without tripping over my wedding dress (a dress that was made by my mother-in-law and was wayyyyy prettier than the one that English chick wore when she married that prince dude).
The week leading up to my wedding day was pure chaos. I had a never-ending list of last-minute details to take care of, and these weird little crises kept popping up where I least expected. I suspect that I spent most of that last week looking wild-eyed with panic with my hair sticking up in tufts, where I kept grabbing it to rip it out of my head.
With everything that was going on – the last-minute ordering of flowers, the finalizing of seating charts and printing of place cards, the wrapping up of guest favours, the steady influx of out-of-town guests – my biggest concern was for my children. How were they going to cope with this big day? (more…)