A Xhosa bride in southern Africa, in contrast to her western counterpart, is expected to show

  • A Xhosa bride in southern Africa, in contrast to her western counterpart, is expected to show both reluctance and sadness during her wedding – any signs of joy are considered inappropriate. She may even cry, and not without reason, because she is leaving her own family and relatives to live among a group of strangers where she will have to be careful of what she says and does.

    For example, a new bride is not allowed to walk across the central meeting place in the middle of the kraal, or village, nor the cattle pen. And when she wishes to go from house to house, she must take the back way. To show respect for her husband’s senior relatives, she has to avoid using the names of senior male relatives or even words similar to them, which can lead to some complex paraphrases. Furthermore, she is not allowed to use the personal names of her mother-in-law, nor those of her husband’s aunts and elder sisters. Her first priority is the care of her husband, which means doing most of the heavy domestic work. Further constraints are having to wear a handkerchief low over her forehead, never showing her bare head to her husband’s relatives, not being allowed to drink milk from the homestead herd, and not touching the drinking utensils.

    However, these rules become less strict as time passes. The handkerchief is eventually removed, gifts are exchanged, and family relationships become a bit more relaxed. Finally, there is a ritual killing of a cow and the bride is allowed to drink the milk of the homestead. However, once she has done this, she can no longer drink the milk of her father’s house, symbolizing her final separation from her family.

    According to the text, which of the following behaviors are expected of a new Xhosa bride?

    Answer (score 79+):
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