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Ngurario at 40

Bride: Regina Njuguna

Groom: Njuguna wa Muchaba

Date: June 16, 2018

Venue: Karunga, Kiambu

Photography: Felix Photography

Presiding elder: Samuel Ngige wa Kinyingi

How did you meet and how long have you been married?

Njuguna: Though we were in the same primary school and Regina was one class behind me, we didn’t know each other. We also used to deliver milk to the same dairy since we come from the same area, and our love was born at the dairy in 1997.

We dated until 1999 when we got married. In 2003, we migrated to Alabama, USA, and in 2008, we did our church wedding at St Peter’s and Paul Catholic Church Kiambu. So far, we have three girls; Vivian, Valencia and LeAnne.

According to Kikuyu tradition, this ritual is binding even in death. It is common among old couples, but, being in your 40s, you’re considerably young. Why this early?

In July 2016, my dad fell sick and we flew him to the US for further treatment. While there, he was diagnosed with cancer and he had to stay with us for a while until he got better. That is when we had a discussion and thought it would be a good idea if we held our ngurario ceremony while he was still strong.

Ngurario is a traditional ceremony by a married couple, which is respected by the Kikuyu community. It involves cutting the meat of a goat’s right shoulder (gutinia kiande) by a man who is married to a woman, and has no plans of ever leaving her. The ceremony is a rite and has to be done at the wife’s homestead (athoni).

What was the inspiration for your theme?

Since it was a traditional ceremony, we wanted outfits that would bring out that traditional aspect, but we incorporated a taste of modernity. The leopard print on our clothes symbolised our strong unity.

Did the day turn out the way you wanted?

Yes. We had a lot of support from family, the organising committee and friends.

What were some of the highlights of the day?

The ceremony is usually rich in tradition and has various rituals, each with its own significance. The first highlight was picking out the bride among the covered women. You have to demonstrate that you know her so well, you can easily identify her even if she is covered up.

Then, preparing the traditional porridge (gukia ucùrù) followed by grinding of the maize, and the best part was when cutting the goat’s right shoulder. It’s the most significant part of the ceremony, which seals the deal.

Many people don’t know about this ceremony. What is your advice to young couples?

I would advise young people to consider this ceremony, because it is not for the elderly as many people think. It is an event where you can learn and share with others. The best thing about this ceremony is that you get blessings from your parents.