When you bring a woman to your mother and fathers house for the night there are certain African customs that must be followed. If the woman is just your girlfriend she must leave the house before it gets light. If she is to be you wife she must rise at first light and begin to work. She is now responsible for cleaning and sweeping the yard. She is to wash all the dishes and pots. She is to sweep the house and do all the chores that her mother in law to be would be doing. This includes fetching water (sometimes very far from the house) collecting wood and tending to the young ones needs. This work will often go on until after lunch.
She will told what to do by anyone older than her. Many young men who wish to get married will rather wait until they have their own house – as this custom brings with it many challenges and conflicts.Originally this custom had many good qualities. It allowed the family to get to know the new wife to be. Whilst doing the chores the Mam (Mother) could speak with her and gauge her suitability and qualities. If the girl does not do her chores properly Mam will say nothing to the girl or the rest of the family. She will wait until she is alone with her son, and will then tell him what she thinks of the girl. The girl will know if the family likes her as they will help, talk and joke. If the family does not like her, or she is cheeky and full of nonsense, she will be left to do all the chores alone, whilst the family makes more and more mess for her to clean up.
The first time you bring a girl home the son will need to speak with his father first and then his Mam. The son will bring the girl home during the night – with a new broom, which he will keep in his room. The couple will spend the night together and at first light the girl will rise and begin to sweep the yard with the new broom. Mam and Father will the act surprised, asking “who is sweeping, who is this girl?”. The son will often stay in his room until his new wife to be has finished all the chores. (mostly because he is embarrassed by how his girl gets treated)
Often, in the modern world, this custom is abused, relegating the girl to slave status in a power play between mother and daughter in law to be. This custom is practised by almost all African Cultures. In the townships, close to the big cities this custom has faded away – and is only practised in rural Africa – the woman who practise the old customs and traditions are known as “home girls” African culture and African customs around marriage custom and wedding customs are great – they instil the older values of family and ubuntu – although some of them, I suspect , are outdated and are not really woman orientated.