The Sudanese Latuka tribe: where the men kidnap the girls they want to marry.
Marriage or hostage?
South Sudan is a country in the Eastern part of Africa. There, you’ll likely come across the Latuka tribe. They’re tiny ethnic group living in mountains and settlements. The people of Latuka, or Otuho as they’re typically called, are farmers keeping large herds of cattle, sheep, and goat. They practice subsistence farming, everyone farms for himself or his family. They grow crops like groundnuts, sorghum, maize, and tubers like yam and potato.
The two major exciting things about the marriage style of the Latuka people of South Sudan are that: the bride-to-be must be kidnapped by her suitor, and the father of the bride-to-be must show acceptance a suitor by beating him. Interesting right?
It is not sure of how intense the beatings take, but when a woman has been seen by a man and is kidnapped, it takes away her choice to choose which man she spends the rest of her life with.
In other parts of the world, there is usually a gentle ceremony of handing over a woman to a man, mostly by the father of the bride-to-be, after the man and woman had come in agreement to live together.
Nevertheless, when a man from this Latuka tribe wants to marry a girl, he will have to kidnap her from her family home, then return to the woman’s family to officially ask for her hand in marriage.
The suitor asks the girl’s father for his daughter’s hand in marriage, along with his elderly male relatives who accompany him.
With the girl still in his possession, the girl’s father is left with two options; whether or not to agree to the proposal by this suitor. The response of a “yes” or “no” from the father comes with its different ceremonial activities.
If the girl’s father agrees to the proposal from this suitor, as a way of showing his appreciation, he is expected to beat his soon to be son-in-law. This ceremonial rite explains that the man is willing to be beaten for her. In this tribe, it’s about the sacrifices he’s willing to make for the woman he claims to love.
Nevertheless, if the father’s response is “no,” the choice is left in the hands of the suitor: he decides whether to return the kidnapped daughter or choose to marry her regardless of her father’s refusal.
According to their history, the Latukas live a communal lifestyle where nothing is hidden from anybody: they practice a system of sharing so, no single person rules over them. But, they have a group of elders vested with the power and authority to guide them.
The Latuka tribe is also known as staunch traditionalists who believe in nature and ancestral worship. Over the years, they have stayed true to their belief, and they are also known for their strong non-conformity to religious penetrations and other cultures, including marriage. Over the years, they have not changed their marriage tradition despite facing constant criticism.