Picking Up Kids and Dowries in Allale

When I last left off, we were getting ready to leave Allale. One of the things we wanted to do before we left was track down Grace, a former Daylight student who had to go back home about a year ago. We had a few things for her, and wanted to check in and see how she was doing.
It turns out that Grace’s family had moved, so tracking her down became a bit of an adventure. Allale is a region, so while she was still in the area, figuring out where she was and how to get there was a bit tricky. After about two hours of driving, we found Grace with her stepfather– they were heading into the market place to pick a few things up. Michael explained that we had a few things for her, and we would like to take her back to Daylight with us for awhile. Somewhat surprisingly, her stepfather agreed, and Grace joined us in the car.

As we were all getting back into the car, Michael explained that rather than heading to Kapenguria now, we needed to head briefly back to his mother’s house. Michael’s sister, Rachel (who lives in Allale now), was getting pretty serious with her boyfriend, and the boys parents had just driven by to discuss dowry with Michael and his mother.

So, we headed to his mother’s homestead, and met with the boy’s parents there, along with Michael’s brothers, sisters-in-law, sisters, and nieces and nephews. Neither Rachel nor her boyfriend were there, but apparently that was typical. What I found surprising was that other people were in attendance, and that is not unusual (Grace’s stepfather even followed us back to watch the dowry discussion).

There was much discussion on both sides, and a few friends and neighbors also offered their opinions. The conversation (from what I gathered from what was explained to me) started out with a discussion of the number of cows the boy’s family would give to Michael’s family for her. Michael explained to us that the cows are then split amongst his family (mother and brothers), and Rachel will be considered primarily a part of her soon-to-be new husband’s family.

The conversation then turned to future education– Rachel has completed high school and done well, and is eligible to go to university if she chooses. So, there was a need to discuss who would pay for further schooling if that became a reality. It seemed that there was general agreement that it could be shared if that was something Rachel wanted in the future.

Overall, it seemed to be a discussion of generalities, knowing that the specifics could be worked out later. Michael said it was a good sign that the boys parent’s were invested enough in the relationship and it’s future to discuss dowry, it meant that they were taking this seriously, and wanted a relationship with Michael’s family as well.


Michael’s daughter Milka, celebrating the successful discussion with a soda!

In the end, we all had cokes that the boy’s family had brought with them as a celebration of the successful conversation and future marriage. It was really interesting to observe, and I’m glad I got to be there for it!

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