Monday, August 10, 2009

Ugandan wedding

Today at lunch, when I asked for chicken, I was given something that did not fit in with my Western notion of chicken. It was the shape of a pelvic bone, but was meat, not bone. My Tanzanian housemate informed that it was a sort of vestigial stomach, used for collecting the sand that chickens swallow as they peck the ground for food. Of course, it is the most prized part of the chicken and is traditionally reserved for the head of household, which meant I had to eat it. I tried to be adventurous, but my overactive imagination wouldn't let me eat it without feeling a bit queasy. Really, it was like a mix between sausage and chicken. Psychologically, it should have bothered me far less than sausage or hotdogs should, but the brain isn't always logical, is it? In the end, I ate about half.

I went to a wedding on Saturday. I had been warned that they were dull, but had no idea just how much sitting and waiting there would be. We sat in the church and they played the wedding march and the bride and groom and wedding party all came out from the front of the church and stood on the stage for a few minutes, then left. At this time, we all played a sort of Chinese fire drill wherein some of the congregation left, others came flooding in, and the rest of us moved seats. It wasn't until several minutes later that I realized we had been watching the tail end of a different wedding. Whoops!

The service was pretty standard, though in Luganda, and the many many photographers are allowed to stand wherever they want to take pictures, so the bride and groom constantly had at least four cameras in their faces, while other cameramen blinded the audience with high-powered lights as they videotaped us sitting and watching. I would not want to be the one to sit through reshowings of those videos.

The service ended around 1pm, and we stood around for a while in the church garden, waiting for Bryony's coworker to organize unknown stuff. Then we headed to the reception hall where we sat and waited (while cheesy romantic and religious country western songs played)...for four hours. Roya was in the city as well, shopping for African prints and other things, and if we'd known we were going to be doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for FOUR FRIGGIN' HOURS, we would have joined her. The bride and groom didn't show up until after 5pm, and then we sat through hours of speeches in Luganda. This is life in Africa: you wait. Wait for sun, wait for rain, wait for the meeting to start, wait for your ship to come in. There was a gift line, in which everyone lines up to present their gifts to the bride and groom. There were over 800 guests at the wedding. You do the math. Anyway, when Bryony and I (the only white people there) got up to the front of the line, the emcee, who had until then been speaking Luganda, stopped me and started quizzing me in English. "Where are you from? Oh, Seattle, WA? My wife lives there. What brings you to Uganda? Research? So you are doing research on married people?" In front of 800 guests. Apparently, he then went on to talk about us for a while in Luganda, though we were totally oblivious.

It did not get more interesting from there. We left before the dancing commenced, as it was late and we had to get back to Entebbe. I feel that it was a cultural experience and I'm glad I experienced it, but through the whole thing I would have given the world to be back in the house watching movies on my laptop. Whatever. You can't say I didn't try.

1 comment:

  1. Ha ha! Hubby and I went to a wedding this weekend, too! The ceremony was much shorter and low-key than yours, although the minister was making vaguely homophobic remarks. It was in a gorgeous historic home, then we went to another historic building for the reception, with a three-course meal, and then an after-party back at the hotel. It was fun! It was also in Detroit.