Stella Nyanzi

When a Muganda bride is found a virgin on the night of her wedding, her groom takes their blood-soiled bedsheets to his Ssenga Ow’ensonga as evidence of the bride’s unspoiltness. Having confirmed the bride’s hymen was nicely intact, the groom’s entourage take a fattened goat along with other gifts of Kasuze Katya to the bride’s people. In Luganda, the word for hymen is ’embuzi’ – the word for a goat. Where girls of other ethnicities fetch herds of cattle, a good Muganda girl brings her people a goat! At least one goat once in life! Thank the heavens I married a foreigner living away from my country. Nobody gave my family a single goat for my illusory hymen…

This practice of my people has always made me to laugh about the simplicity of belief in girls’ purity until the marriage night. Stories of keeping an unbroken hymen which one’s husband would struggle hard to penetrate on his first night, always horrified me before I became sexual. What with the whole long tale of the mandatory requirement to spill blood onto the bedsheets as an indication of a newly broken hymen? Honeymoons sounded like a horror featuring a firm unpricked hymen, a bold penetrating penis, a sheet with blood taken as evidence to at least one more person, and a goat! Oh, how I hated Billy goats when I was growing up…

And now, social media is awash with stories about this woman with cows and goats worth ten billion a piece. My girl friends whose in-laws took goats after the wedding night should be asking for the balance of money. The goats given to their families for their unpricked hymens each cost only a few thousands! Their hymens have been undervalued in comparison to these other goats that cost ten billion shillings for each.

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