International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

The Collapse of Bridewealth and its Impact on the Isukha Marital Institution, 1894-1945
Leen Kavulavu, Prisca J. Tanui Ph.D.

This study examined the centrality of bridewealth payment in Isukha marriage before the establishment of colonial rule and missionaries activities. Bridewealth guaranteed stability in Isukha marriage. The study argues that colonialism was responsible for the changes that took place in Isukha marriage. In addition, Christianity impacted on marriage tastes and choices. To them bridewealth made marriage a mere mercantile transaction and they resolved to discourage the practice among baptized Christians as far as possible. In this effort however, they were not very successful for Christian continued to receive and give bridewealth, given the important symbolic role placed on it by the people of Isukha. What determined and shaped Isukha marriage bridewealth was the economic stresses suffered by the people when it came to using cattle to pay taxes. This meant a total loss of bridewealth. Methodology for this study involved data collected from secondary and primary data derived from archival and field research. This study findings argues that colonial and missionary penetration disrupted the social fabric which weaved and kept moral and responsible behaviours in marriage relations in a state of equilibrium. It did this in several ways, for instance through imparting western cultural attributes to the Isukha, in attempt to undermine their culture by targeting features such as bridewealth exchange. The consequences of this was gradual and systematic transformation of Isukha marriage.

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