Marriage or Wanano is the union of two people to become husband and wife. In the pre-colonial era, Zimbabweans had many forms of marriage which were recognised. Some of these forms include Kutizisa, kuganha, kubvisa pfuma /roora among others. However, with colonisation, some of the foreign traditions of marriage where introduced, for example wedding ceremonials, prenuptials and more.


Zimbabwe has many ethnic groups with a lot of values and diverse culture. The goal of marriage remains the same, to unite two people together and their families too.

Forms of marriage

Here are some of the forms of marriage traditionally recognised in Zimbabwe

  • Kuganha

This method is when a girl identifies a man she desires to be married to and packs her belongings to move in with him. This she did without communicating with him nor anyone from her family. After arrival to the man's home, she would sit outside the home and wait for anyone to notice her. The family of the man she whom she would have liked will then sit their son down and ask if he liked the girl in return. If his answer was yes then arrangements to pay lobola would be in place.

  • Musengabere

This method is almost similar to kuganha except for this time around it is the man that identifies the girl he likes. He studies her movement patterns and whilst she is unaware usually when she would be collecting firewood or fetching water. The man will pick her up and run as fast as he can before the family of the girl notices her absence and searches for her or sent her brothers to beat the man up. Upon arrival to his home, the man will send word to the girls family that she was with him and he would like to marry her. The girl will be encouraged to accept him and roora proceedings will begin.

  • Kuzvarira (Pledging)

A typical poor family will negotiate with a rich family to give a girl child. This was before the child was even born. After her birth, she would stay with her family until she was mature to go and live with her promised husband. In other scenarios, the family of the girl would marry her off to cover problems for example to pay ngozi (an avenging spirit of someone murdered by the girls family member\ external family member). If a chief would have ruled out that case and the girls family could not afford the number of cattle needed he will trade his girl child.

  • Kutema Ugariri

This marriage is when the man could not afford to pay lobola in the acceptable ways which could be cattle or hoes. So instead he would offer his labour services for an agreed time frame to work at his would be in-laws house mostly in the fields. At the end of the time phase mentioned the man will claim his bride and together start their own family.

  • Kutizira Mukumbo(Elopement)

This form of getting married is still common in modern-day Zimbabwe and usually is when a girl gets pregnant before roora is paid to her family. The man decides to collect the girl by night at an agreed place. The girl is accompanied by a friend and no ceremony is held to celebrate this form of marriage.

  • Chigadzamapfihwa /Chimutsamapfihwa

After a female relative has passed on, her young sister is given to her husband to help him look after the deceased family and also as a token of appreciation for living well with the deceased. The chimutsamapfihwa's other role is to ensure that she continues her sisters' roles and responsibility in the family.

  • Kugara Nhaka

Kugara Nhaka is almost similar to chimutsamapfihwa except in this instance the husband takes over his late brother or uncle. The idea behind this type of marriage was to ensure the

This form of marriage is when a man ask for a girls hand in marriage and gives her family a token of appreciation in the form of roora. The man goes to her aunt and promises to marry at a certain date. The aunt then ask the girl and man to solidfy their promise in exchange of clothing, for example, the man may take the girl's blouse and the girl takes his trousers. This exchange is kupana nhumbi and soon after they are traditionally engaged. If either of them is to break the promise he/she will be taken to the village headman or the chief. [1]

Child Marriage

Marriages below the age of 18 have been criminalised, under a 2016 Constitutional Court ruling.
However, statistics from UNICEF around 2018, showed that 32 percent of all girls in Zimbabwe were married before the age of 18, and 4 percent married before their 15th birthday. Mashonaland Central had the highest rate, at 50 percent, then Mashonaland West, at 42 percent. Harare stood at 19 percent, Matabeleland South at 18 percent and Bulawayo at 10 percent.
Factors associated with child marriage include religious and cultural beliefs, poverty, lack of serious sex education in schools and inadequate knowledge on children's rights.
Organisations, programmes and instrtuments dealing with child marriage include:

  • U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)
  • Panos Institute Southern Africa
  • Convention on the Elimination of All Forms Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) - See Women’s Action Group
  • African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.



  1. Traditional forms of marriage…. when Western values eroded our ways, ThePatriot, Published: 20 July 2017 , Retrieved: 19 March 2018
  2. Ending child marriages: Layering approach the way to go, The Herald, Published: 24 April 2019, Retrieved: 2 February 2022