On the fringes of the Gerewol ceremony, which is a male beauty contest and courtship ritual held at the end of the rainy season in September, a trap is set for already married couples.
Wife/girlfriend stealing is allowed once a year in this African tribe
In our previous article on the Woodabe tribe, we looked at their speed-dating etiquette. However, as hard as getting a wife can be, it is nothing compared to what the men have to do to keep her.
Well, it looks like a trap to catch cheating partners but it is endorsed and supported by their culture to encourage unhappy wives to pick a new husband. That is if the new husband escapes with the woman without the current husband none the wiser.
After a day of getting the ladies' attention with impressive physical traits and male charm, the community dance commences. On the open savannah of Northwest Africa, under the setting sun that mocks the scattered community fires, on the edges of the dancing groups where the light stops and darkness takes over, the newly transitioned men ambush homes to steal wives.
Here are the rules for wife stealing
- The woman has to come willingly. In other words, she should have indicated during the male beauty contest that she wants you.
- The husband should not find you. Even though the woman comes willingly, if the husband finds you both in the house or on the way, he has the right to take back his wife. He can either ask her to come back or fight the suitor even to the death.
- Only the men who participated in the beauty contest can steal wives.
- Married or not, the endangered husband or boyfriend has the right to defend his partner.
If the suitor is able to get the woman safely away from the home, he is free to take her to his home and the ex-husband is not allowed to come after them.
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