Wood / Nxumelo Umembeso in Mduku Village
The Umembeso ceremony celebrates the union of two families in marriage in Zulu culture.
I was at the ceremony as a guest of the Wood family; and as such I have perceived the ceremony with a slant from the the groom’s perspective.
The groom’s family give gifts to the bride’s family as the bride leaves her family and joins the family of the groom. Here the family of Douglas Wood gives the family of Imbali Nxumalo the gifts at her father’s homestead near Mduku Village in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.
The mother of the bride is outfitted with a hat and a new dress and blouse by the the groom’s daughter.
Apart from the cattle that the groom’s family pay for a new bride, umbrellas, suits, dresses, pinafores, blankets and a cast iron pot form part of the bride price too.
An elder woman of the bride’s family hugs the daughter of the groom in thanks for the new blanket given to her. The bonds between the two families created by the labola process give the new couple a strong base for their life together, divorce is rare in Zulu culture.
The negotiator stands at the gate to the brides family home asking for permission for the groom’s family to enter the homestead.
The groom has a quiet beer and a cigarette with the nigotiator/master of ceremonies on the way to the Umembeso ceremony at the bride’s family home.
The bride gives her groom a gift of a blanket as she becomes a part of the Wood family.
The negotiator oversees the agreements between the Nxumalo and Wood clans
A member of the Wood clan selects a suit to give to the father of the bride.
Women of the groom’s family check the details of a blanket before handing it over to the bride’s family.
The groom’s family approch and enter through the now open gate to the bride’s family homestead.
A daughter of the groom gives a suit to Imbali Nxumalo’s father as part of the bride price that Douglas Wood paid for his wife to be.
The groom’s youngest sister Gaynor Stander, dresses in a Zulu headdress and pinafore as she steps in as the Wood family matriarch for the Umembeso ceremony
Douglas Wood the groom shares a beer and a moment with Samantha Luyt his daughter of his first marriage during the Umembeso ceremony at the Nxumalo homestead.
The bride (wearing a blue hat) is presented to the groom, accompanied by the women of the groom’s family
The bride gives the the mother of the groom a blanket, food stuffs, a house coat and a scarf as she departs from the Nxumalo family and joins the family of the groom.
The father of the bride gives the groom a set of casual clothes as he is now his son in law and can visit the homestead with out ceremony as the 2 families are joined in marriage.
Douglas Wood the groom relaxes with his children and grand children in his home in Mduku Village in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.
The bride and groom’s daughter Bridgette dances with her mother at groom’s home.