Undercover On Sunday

Mamma Mia: Why Kenyan women invite therapists, pastors to bridal showers!

The hottest properties are paid male speakers to give tips, sometimes with Practicals

The Girl’s Brigade: Bridal showers are a secret. Most Kenyan women said they attend them to have fun, bid the bride farewell, hook up with pals. Other attend out of obligation, to seek information while others its out of curiosity.

By Camy Akinyi-Gecaga

Contributing Editor

If you are a working class Kenyan woman who has chewed books, then you must have been invited to one of those bridal showers now gaining  currency-with therapists and male pastors in attendance.  

Traditionally, bridal showers also called bachelorette parties (and which originated in Europe), were for showering the bride with gifts besides dishing out tips on how best to be a family cook, homemaker and bedmate to the hubby.

Most bridal showers were organized by maternal aunties with marital and child bearing experience. But things have changed. Societal breakdown in extended families came to ruin the party and new brides no longer have these old aunties around.

New generation aunties, on the other hand, hardly know much about fading traditions. Some are separated, divorced or opted for single motherhood. They thus not in position of offering counseling needed during a bridal shower, leaving an urban woman at the mercy of the Internet and advise from Kilimani Mums Uncensored.

Bridal showers were women only affairs, mostly for solidarity, as one readied herself for the lifetime rigour of dealing with a man with whom you did not grow up together- and there is no reason why that should have been the case.

Things have slightly changed. While among the Kikuyu a bridal shower took eight days, among the Kipsigis a bride could be seclude for up to two years. Today’s woman is a busy profession for whom a bridal shower can take the better part of an afternoon, at most a day. Its aim is to honour the bride with love, gifts and advice-but most hate any tips associated with cooking as majority were not socialized with recipes and cook books.

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There are a few characteristics of a bridal shower: It has to be a secret, surprise party. The bride must have no clue. It is a friend’s thing, with a few relatives, mostly wild cousins in tow. It is most times organized by the Maid of Honour to be.

And a lot has changed and which men should know.

In her 2013research at the University of Nairobi titled, Socializing women into marital responsibilities: The emerging phenomena of bachelorette parties among educated young women in Nairobi, Naomi Njonjo found that 88 percent of bridal showers are held in homes meaning organizers seek intimacy and privacy while 11 percent were held in hotels and clubs.

Reasons for women attending bridal showers might be shocking and in order of importance, respondents singled out; having fun, bidding bride farewell, hooking up with pals, obligation, seek information and  going out of curiosity.

While it was a woman’s affairs, today, men are also being invited with the hottest properties being male lungula-xologists who are invited as paid speakers to give tips (sometimes with practical’s) on bedroom affairs.

Most pastors were uncomfortable with the swilling of alcohol and presence of male strippers

Ngumbaru: The Nandi used the bridal showers as a last minute crash course on how best to handle anything that was hard and seemed to have a mind of its own during the first night.

Njonjo notes that “in some liberal parties, male strippers are invited to bridal showers and can sometimes end up having last lungula encounter with the bride-to-be before marriage.”

Other invitees are male church marriage counselors mostly pastors to issue guidance on how best to be a homemaker and avoid divorcing before the fifth anniversary like aunt Trufena. Most pastors were uncomfortable with the swilling of alcohol and presence of male strippers.

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For girls in the days before and slightly after Kenya’s independence, virginity was maintained  until her wedding day. She knew nothing about missionary and other positions. The Nandi, like other communities, used the bridal showers as a last minute crash course on how best to handle anything that was hard and seemed to have a mind of its own during the first night.

Why are women still tutored about bedroom affairs in bridal showers, yet the groom to be could be the 20th dude in their lives?

Naomi Njonjo’s research on bridal showers was illuminating. It revealed that while sex education among the Kikuyu was for instance, given to initiates after circumcision, the community long discarded the practice.

The absence of lungula aunties and grandmothers in urban settings have seen the rise of bridal showers as the avenue for issuing guidance on “sex education, customs and gender roles” from a retinue of advisors ranging from “counselors, pastors, newly married women, wedding planners and male bedroom therapists, who could be younger and not married neither are they related to the bride.”

Brides to be are taught about “techniques and blunders women make during lungula are shared and uninhibited indulgence on lungula and marriage talk is discussed” while gifts given to the bride include “lungula accessories like dildos, Kegel exercise balls and flavoured lubricants which are supposed to spice up a couple’s sex life” while others bring “lingerie, negligee, inner wears, adult toys and costumes and other important household gifts.” 

Groom is not copied the same notes and his Stag Night party is wasted on debauchery and decadence in Kilimani

Here comes the bride: In the absence of traditional aunties, websites, blogs and different companies have come up with ideas to spice up a bridal shower in Kenya.

Njonjo also reveal that professional women be they doctors, bankers, financial analyst, counselors, lawyer, secretaries or engineers, also need advice on work-life balance and bridal showers come in handy on how best to “balancing between being a career woman, a good mother, a perfect home maker, a supportive wife, family planning and handling finances and in-laws in marriage.”

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In case a woman had already been cohabiting and knew all about what is taught to new brides then the bridal shower takes a different turn towards “amusements designed to fit the bride’s personality. Anything from a wild bachelorette soiree to casual coed barbecue is acceptable. Websites, blogs and different companies have come up with ideas to spice up the event. These include themes that can be used in the bridal shower party,” writes Njonjo adding that bridal showers differ depending on resources   for the event, culture and religion of the planners, time and venue. Also considered is age, level of education, professions besides the theme of the bridal shower.

But why then do marriages still struggle yet these brides are taken through communication skills, good grooming, spicing up a marriage, dealing within-laws, handling conflict, seeking God, seducing your hubby and holding your tongue as a wife?

Maybe it’s because the groom is not copied the same notes and his Stag Night bachelor party is wasted on debauchery and decadence somewhere in Kilimani.

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