8-Year-Old Boy Marries 61-Year-Old Woman to Honor Deceased Grandfather

BY: - 12 Mar '13 | Marriage

Share this article!


Photo Credit: via WBLS’s Facebook Page

At some point we all will or already have experienced pressure from family members to tie the knot, but you ultimately do it on your own time, right? In some cases, we actually want to do so, but the circumstances just aren’t quite right. We haven’t met the right one…finances are not right…There are tons of issues that keep us from the alter. For others, there is NOTHING that could stand in the way of marrying their love. Such is the case, for this May–December romance: Meet 8-year-old Sanele Masilela, whose dead grandfather reportedly wished for him to marry 61-year-old married mother-of-five Helen Shabangu.

Both the bride and groom are from the town of Tshwane, South Africa, and they agreed to the ceremony out of fear of divine retribution. Sanele’s family paid £500 to the bride as a dowry, and the wedding itself cost £1,000. They were able to plan the ceremony, which they admitted shocked some members of the community, in the span of only two months (It would have me that long to decide on colors.).

While some are experiencing shock and awe, others are revering this brave couple for going against the grain and upholding their ancestors’ wishes. Luckily, according to the groom’s mother, this ceremony was just for show and was in no way legally binding. The couple (for lack of a better word) have moved on with their individual lives and are both happy with their decision to have the ceremony.

BMWK — What are your thoughts on having your child participate as a child bride/groom?

About the author

Sheree Adams wrote 117 articles on this blog.

Sheree is a wife and WAHM of three who passionately blogs about marriage, family, health tips and more as Smart & Sassy Mom. Sheree is committed to helping blended families and keeping marriages strong, healthy, fun and SPICY!


like what you're reading?

Start Shopping!


Facebook Wordpress

23 WordPress comments on “8-Year-Old Boy Marries 61-Year-Old Woman to Honor Deceased Grandfather

  1. Heather H

    So sad! Makes me want to raise the money to “buy” the boy back and pay for the dowry. Can we do that???

  2. ejose

    Yuck! I can’t imagine putting my 7 year old through a heinous act of marrying someone old enough to be his grandmother!???!!!

  3. Jocelyn

    Thank God it was just for show! I have a son he’s only 2 now but if he were 8 I wouldn’t have allowed it ancestor’s wishes or not. Trauma and humiliation for what!? Forget that!

  4. PULE

    As a South African woman this shocked me too. I live an hour away from Tswane so the idea that something like this could happen in a modern environment (yes it is a modern, developing city) really surprised me – in rural areas anything goes so I wouldn’t approve but I wouldn’t be surprised by it either.
    What I would like to share with you though is that for this boy it is not embarrassing, among his friends he’ll be ‘the one who became a man first’ and his family will forever treat him with kit-gloves because ‘the ancestors speak through him’. As a born-again Christian I think its important to remember and honour your culture but not sway from the word of God.
    I was deeply embarrassed to see this story on an international website but now I know that this is also an opportunity for other believers to pray for this boy and his family, that they may be transformed by renewing their minds. With all we gain in this world, may we gain understanding of God’s word. Kgotso e be le lona / peace be with you

    Miss Pule

    1. Tricey

      Say that sister in christ! We have to pray for the people & ask God to deliver them from anything that is not like him!

    2. Ann

      Miss Pule, thank you for your insights into this. Being a Westerner, I’m still appalled by it and because of my own culture, I could never see going through something like this if it were my son. And I agree that this is an opportunity to pray for the people involved. Again, thank you.

  5. Erin Pascal

    Oh my! Kids this age are supposed to be having fun playing with friends and going to school… absolutely not for marriage. What will his friends say about him after knowing this? That’s if he will ever have friends after this.. The way people will look at them will definitely change and this will have a huge impact especially on the child.

  6. Tricey

    SAY WHAT NOW! The ancestors, grandpa or whoever would just have to be mad. Being the mother of a 7 yr old boy, I would never on earth allow anything like this! Very sickening to me, even the “idea” Jesus help the people!

  7. Shameeka

    Did any of you read the artical all the way to the end? It says” Luckily, according to the groom’s mother, this ceremony was just for show and was in no way legally binding. The couple (for lack of a better word) have moved on with their individual lives and are both happy with their decision to have the ceremony.” It was not real…

  8. Nikki

    By the time he understands, she will be dead and he can go on to marry someone closer to his adult age. That’s Africa and this is America. I’ve seen a lot of disgusting unorthodox things here so big deal.

    1. stephanieb

      The fact that this woman kissed this boy on the mouth and even married him “just for show” is nasty to me!!!

  9. Midnightstar

    Will everybody please chill out for a minute?? It says at the end of the story that basically, it was just statement and excercise of respect. They are not living together, much less be consummated!! Y’all need to relax!


    1. Tiffany

      Chill out? Really? The thought of this is sickening! Did you ever stop to think that one day his mind could be screwed up as a result of this nonsense? Look at the poor boys face… Just marry your child off and have him/her kiss an older person in the mouth then come back and tell us how u feel.

  10. Sheree Adams Post author

    Thanks for your comments everyone. I completely understand everyone’s point of view. However, I’m still a little disturbed that this poor child had to even endure this even it was “for show”. Childhood is so short and precious to have to deal with this kind of stuff.

  11. Sammy

    it’s tradition ,people. It’s our tradition. It is not a real marriage, it’s just a ceremony to please the ancestors. I’m Swazi, those are my people and that is our tradition, but it’s still surprising to see that some people still practice this. I’ve only heard stories from my great great grandmother about this practice. Anyway, it pleases me that there are some people who still so deeply rooted to our culture, it gives me hope.

  12. Sammy

    You people will never understand this.. Partly because you don’t understand this tradition, partly because of the way this article is written but mostly because you don’t want to understand it.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>