As a junior elder, I find myself increasingly worried about how Gen Z will disrupt our age old dowry negotiation ceremony as we know it.

First, they will question why people have to meet physically for ruracio. To them, it can be done on progressive platforms like X (formerly known as Twitter, for those keeping score). Their parents will find this odd and insist that the event has to be held in person. Since the youngsters love road trips, they’ll give in but still, the entire event will be live on Tik Tok and X all day.

In my community, the dress code for women during dowry negotiations includes colorful kitenges. The men, especially those who take part in the actual negotiation, don ill-fitting coats and oversized trousers to underscore the gravity of the duty at hand. Gen Z dowry negotiations will be more of a youth camp as they will turn up in sweatpants, oversized hoodies, and sneakers.

Our dowry negotiations are marked by age-old traditional songs passed down from the days of Mumbi. These songs mostly heap praises on the bride’s dimples and such. Gen Z dowry ceremonies will be characterized by songs by Sauti Sol Like ‘Suzanna’ because, for them, that’s old music.

Our folks usually hire gaily coloured matatus to ferry folks to and from the dowry negotiation home. Additionally, we have an unwritten rule that folks have to converge at Kenol town, regardless of whether they are going to Nakuru or Nyahururu. For Gen Z, the meeting point will be the Kenya National Archives—the place they’ve been converging to plan their demos. Their preferred mode of transport will be Uber and Bolts taxis, regardless of where they are going.

In my community, when the dowry party arrives at the bride’s home, some aunties always lock the gate and demand to be given some cash and sodas for their troubles. The youngsters will say to hell with this corruption and the mamas will have to devise other ways of squeezing some mullah from the groom.

During dowry negotiations, there are always grandmas and aunties who claim that the bride broke their pots when she was young. The Gen Z guys will demand photos as evidence. The aunties will have to back down amidst shouts of ‘uongo’ from the youngsters because for Gen Z, its “Pics or it didn’t happen!”

Most of the Gen Z kids aren’t well-versed in our intricate cultural matters, like how many goats should be given out for a bride. They also don’t know how much money goes to the wife’s uncles and aunties, lest they leave a curse behind. But not to worry. ChatGPT will give them all the solutions at the click of a button. If, let’s say, Bobo (short for Wambui) is getting married to Brayo, ChatGPT will advise that the dowry in the proper Gikuyu way is 99 goats. However, ChatGPT will add that sometimes it can be wrong.

And that’s where a m-vintage like yours truly will come in—to dish out cultural wisdom that technology can’t provide. This, of course, will come at the price of several chilled Balozis at Giceeri’s old haunt. So, as long as they keep the drinks flowing, I’ll dish the cultural titbits!

(This piece first appeared in ‘The Nairobian‘)

Gilbert Mwangi

Creative writer,dreamer,and Drum Major for all things true.

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