The Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB), the body in-charge of marriage registration in Uganda together with the Buganda Kingdom have partnered to support traditional marriage practices across communities.
The two institutions are currently training a team of traditional masters of ceremonies (bogezi) on the different cultural and legal requirements of customary marriages.
The ‘Bogezi’ are also being trained on the benefits of ensuring that the couples at whose ceremonies they officiate, get Kingdom certificates to enable them acquire Government certificates at the Registry of marriages.
Majority of Ugandans, even the elites, are oblivious about customary marriage registration and related practices to secure their unions.
Customary marriage, termed locally as nyomkwaro among the Lango/Acholi, Kuhingira among the Bakiga/Banyankole and Kwanjula/kukyala among the Baganda, precedes most types of marriages in Uganda.
It is a type of marriage which is negotiated, celebrated and concluded according to specific culture and norms, celebrated according to the rites of an African community to which one is a member. By most standards, it is the basic standard of matrimonial institutionalization in Uganda.
Customary Marriages are governed by the Customary Marriages (Registration) Act Cap 248 Laws of Uganda.
Speaking at the event, the Registrar General of URSB, Mercy Kainobwisho told the trainees the values of encouraging their clients to have their unions registered.
She added that registration of customary marriages should be effected not later than 6 months after the date of completion of the ceremony although registration after the expiration of 6 months is allowed upon payment of the prescribed fee.
“For any society and the Kingdom to develop, the basic unit of society, the family must be documented and hence harnessed to maximally utilize available resources in the secure environment of recognition. This is what marriage registration confers to the couples. I urge you all to support all traditional marriages to get registered. The benefits are immense,” Kainobwisho said.
According to the Act, traditional marriages can be registered at districts, sub-counties, town councils and municipalities where the customary function took place.
Sub-County Chiefs and Town Clerks act as marriage registrars and have in their possession customary marriage registration books, where they also record the necessary settlements agreed and completed by the parties.
Within six months, the married couple is expected to go to the office of the sub-county chief or town clerk to register the details of their traditional matrimonial union. The couple must be accompanied by two witnesses who are either parents, brothers, sisters, uncles or aunts of either of the parties, chiefs, clan heads or other persons of standing.
When the couple, their witnesses and the marriage registrar append their signatures on the prescribed certificate form, the registrar then issues a customary marriage certificate to the parties. The certificate acts as evidence of customary marriage for all legal purposes. In its entirety, this legislation is a comprehensive blueprint for traditional marriages in Uganda.