Sierra Leone Culture

In Sierra Leone culture, their own African wedding traditions are as unique as each and every tribe in the country. There are many tribes in this not-so-little West African country. Each sharing some similarities but also having some marked differences when it comes to celebrating the union of two individuals and their families in matrimony.

Traditional Weddings In Sierra Leone Facts

Among the Mende people, a boy’s family can choose a future wife for him from childhood. However, if the girl does not agree to choice when she is of age, she has the opportunity to refuse marriage (to the young man that is… not necessarily to marriage altogether). If she goes through with the marriage without her consent however, the man’s family will be required to pay her parents a bride price known as mboya. If the bride price is not paid, any children they have will be considered to be the “property” of the woman’s family.

Once the bride price is paid however, the marriage will then be considered legal.

Also in the Sierra Leone culture is a tribe known as the Temne. They happen to be the major rival of the Mende people, but we won’t go down that road here… The traditional marriage customs of the Temne people pretty much match those of the Mende people. Part of the bridal payment includes rice, salt, palm oil, and fabric for making clothes.

Finally, among the Koranko, parents choose their daughters’ husbands at puberty. The men would typically take a few years to pay off the bride price and during this time the girl will be trained by the husband-to-be’s relatives in their home. If for any reason the girl choose to back out of going through with the marriage arrangement, then her father will be responsible for paying back however much of the bride price he has received up to that point.

Typical Sierra Leonean Masks & Sculpture


Incorporating Sierra Leone Culture Wedding Traditions

Are you of Sierra Leonean heritage? Do you think oyu would like to incorporate some of the elements above into your wedding ceremony (even if you aren’t)? Here are some tips on how you can easily do just that.

  • Carve out a segment of time during your wedding reception for a ceremonial gift exchange – groom to the bride’s parents. Include such things as typical food items that were traditionally given e.g. rice, salt, etc., in addition perhaps to some clothing accessories for both her parents in lieu of fabric for clothing.
  • Have a mini teaching lesson where the groom’s mother shows the bride (or tells her) how she performs some typical household task, OR have her give the bride one of her best food recipes (perhaps maybe one that her son is particulalry fond of) in a ceremonial fashion.
  • If you want to have some fun and entertain your wedding guests in the process, have a “fake” backing out re-enactment where the bride pretends she changes her mind about the marriage and the groom does all kinds of cheesy romantic things to woo her back. The cheesier, the better.


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