Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A big Kenyan wedding


On Saturday February 4th I marked 3 months in Kenya by attending my first wedding ever. Ever ever. Not just in Kenya, ever. Which has caused quite the disbelief among anyone I've told it to. So you can imagine how excited I was when Barbara's boss Josephine invited Barbara, Nicole and I to her son, Aestimo's wedding. I was going to get to experience my first ever wedding, and in Kenya.
Housemates all dressed up for the day (Photo credit Nicole)

So the 3 housemates dolled ourselves up and headed off for the day. We arrived at the Jubilee Christian Church almost an hour late, but in true Kenyan style the bride didn't arrive for another 40 minutes.


Guests arrive at the wedding on a Starbus!

The bride arrives
The religious ceremony itself was pretty similar to an Irish wedding, or any other wedding, from my limited knowledge of these things. Although, the Minister was probably a bit more craic than your average Irish priest and at times was more like an MC trying to enthuse both the crowd, and the affianced couple.
The Minister shares his experiences of married life.


Having a bit of an aul praise.


The reception was then held at the Sir Usufali Sports Club, a lovely outdoor venue (just off the Thika Road, for those Nairobi folks who might be interested!). The guests were split once again into bride and grooms sides, this time facing each other with the wedding cake marquay in the middle. I very much appreciated the fact that the cake got its own marquay.

Groom's side of the reception

Barbara and Peter go to look for seats for us.
We arrived at the reception around 2ish and the girls and I were delighted to find that the food was served almost straightaway. Despite having brought snacks with us in our handbags (this is Kenya and since nothing runs to time I find having snacks on me at all time stops me getting cranky) we were famished. The food served was traditional Kenyan fare, rice, ugali, dishes with beans, dishes with peas, and goat and chicken.

Yum, dinner! (Photo credit Nicole)

And then came the presenting of the gifts! Which involved the various groups related to the couple, different family groups, different groups from their respective village/homeplace, colleagues dancing and singing their way to the couple to present them with present. There were also speeches. Lots of speeches. All of which were in Kiswahili so the girls and I understood about 1 word in 20. We later found out that the speeches were conducted in Kiswahili purely for our benefit, as some of the wedding party/MC thought we spoke Kiswahili. Had we not been there they would have taken place in Kikuyu. We didn't have the heart to tell them that we don't speak very good Kiswahili. Tunafahamu kidogo (we understand a little).

One of the groups of women dance and sing their
way to the couple  to present their gift.

The most interesting thing about this part of the day was when the bride and groom were presented with a bed by the bride's family, which was then made right in front of us. We were told by the lovely lady sitting next to us that this is a Kikuyu tradition. From what I understand of it, this is to signify that this is where the woman is now to sleep, and she is not to go back to her family (ie leave her marital bed) without her husband. I think the undertone of this is that you don't give up on your marriage in the Kikuyu culture, no matter what.

A member of the bride's family presents a bed to the couple
and explains the significance behind this Kikuyu tradition.

The couple try out their new bed.


Photographer extraordinaire Barbara gets closer to the action.

About to cut the cake. Which I have now decided is the
best part of any wedding.

All in all it was a wonderful day. I got to spend time with my charming housemates, I got to witness some proper Kenyan culture, and I got to put on a nice frock - a good day all round I say!

Housemates with the beautiful mother of the groom, Josephine.



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