Bride price with a difference


By JOSEPH KENA’E KA’AUWhen a bride price is paid in the Papua region, the norm is for the husband and his people to deliver the bride price to the relatives of the wife, usually to the residence of the wife’s parents or brothers.
After the bride price is paid, the bride’s relatives are then obligated to return the gesture by ensuring that their relative (the wife) is equipped to meet her requirements/obligation to her husband and in-laws. Again the wife’s people will take whatever they have prepared and deliver these things to the husband’s people.
Nama Gamoa, a young man from Kapari village in the Abau District of the Central reversed this norm when he invited his wife’s people over to his residence in Kapari to receive the bride price. His wife Margaret John Emau originally from Baimuru in Gulf, but residing in the National Capital District, had to convince her relatives to accept this invitation.
In accepting the invitation, Margaret’s relatives also informed Nama’s people that they would deliver their appreciation on the same day that the bride pride was paid.
On Friday, Dec 7, three PMV loads of Margaret’s relatives took the five-hour trip to Kapari for the bride price celebrations. For many of them, it was their first ever trip out of NCD to Abau.
About 60 people, including all the goods prepared for Margaret arrived and were warmly welcomed by Nama’s parents and relatives for the main ceremony scheduled for the next day, Saturday Dec 8.
The night was quiet as most of the people went to sleep early after the long trip.
The next day started at 4am. Fires were lit and food preparation commenced. By 2pm the bride price ceremony commenced.
Proudly displaying the cash amount on a placard with all the foodstuff, including two pigs, the bride price was delivered.
Main recipient, Barry John (Margaret’s elder brother) was lost for words. Parents John Emau and Ikai Kemo’o had passed on.
“Thank you very much,” was all he could say.
This was the biggest amount of bride price paid for any Kaimare bride so far. And then he had to travel with his people to the groom’s village to receive the payment.
About K50,000 was paid. This included K36,000 cash, transport costs from Kapari, two pigs and three truckloads of food.
The bride’s relatives then returned the gesture. Margaret and son Gamoa Jnr were attired with gifts, foodstuff (cooked and raw) and all the household goods and were delivered to the Gamoa family.
Upon the conclusion of formalities, and in thanking all the participants, father in-law, senior Gamoa stressed that it was not about all the cash and all the food.
“The important thing is that two families, one from the Central and the other from the Gulf have come together to create a relationship and fellowship that will last as long as we live.”

  • The author is a freelancer.

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