Everybody knows what its like to see drunken relatives making a fool of themselves on the dancefloor at your second cousing’s wedding when ‘YMCA’ starts blasting through the speakers. If you have ever wondered how this day devoted to eternal love goes down here in Tanzania, we are happy to enlighten you as we were part of the wedding ceremony of our colleague and friend Msafiri and his wife Luciana.
06.00 None of our colleagues were able to attend the ceremony on Boxing-day, so it was just the two of us on our road trip to Maji Moto, a Maasai village close to Arusha, where the wedding would take place. With the sunset in our rearview mirror we hit the road on the way to Maji Moto.
07.43 Since cars are rather scarce in this rural area we were asked weeks up front if we could come by car, so we could escort the happy couple to church. Upon our arrival we then decided to take a brief pit stop to decorate the car appropriately.
09.00 Once we arrived in the village we were welcomed with open arms by the bride and her family. The couple’s entourage was still busy preparing the feast we would be presented later that day: goats were brought in, bunches of bananas were prepared, beers and sodas were delivered at a steady pace.
09.45 Breakfast was served! To make sure we would get through the day, we were offered a full plate of spaghetti with a first taste of the nicely prepared goat.
10.04 As preparations reached a final stage, we caught a first glimpse of the bride and groom. Msafiri, wearing a sleek shiny costume, was still polishing his shoes when Luciana entered the premises to great applause. Although we already decided to decorate the car with balloons, additional ribbons were needed. A photo shoot later, we were able to escort the both of them to church in our pimped car.
10.17 Quite quickly we noticed Msafiri and Luciana were not the only couple getting married on this day, nine other couples would actually promise each other eternal loyalty.
10.30 People were gathering so we decided to enter. Logistical issues were being finalised, so we thought…
12.00 Boy, were we wrong… Almost two hours in, and mass hadn’t started yet. While the two altar boys and the priest were changing wardrobe, the master of ceremony was still sound checking and suspension was rising. Eventually, the time was right and the choir got the party started.
14.40 After a two-hour ceremony, it was time for communion. Hosts and wine were then presented in church with all the bells and whistles. The end was near, so we thought…
16.04 Boy, were we wrong again… Since there were ten couples getting married, every ritual – and they were plentiful – needed to be done ten times. We were then fairly happy, but surprised, when they entered with Coca Cola and cake. Much to our surprise, the soda and dessert were actually part of the ceremony: the bride and groom were asked to feed one another.
17:14 After a marathon ceremony of over five hours, we were asked to come to the front and congratulate the couple(s). Finally we could take them home and get the party going.
17.31 Although, we – being mzungu – would stand out, we were clearly not the only ones invited to the party: over a hundred people were there to attend the festivities. Family and friends from then entire region had gathered to welcome the newlyweds home. The groom, bride and honor attendants were seated in the front, and we got first row tickets to the multitude of rituals to come.
17:44 But first…dinner was served. The family had set up an entire buffet for us to enjoy: pilau, spaghetti, fried bananas, crisps, goat, fruit… Since we didn’t want to be disrespectful, our main concern was how to finish this gigantic pile of food. Quite quickly, we noticed we weren’t the only ones struggling… Hakuna matata!
18:30 Following, the time had come to hand over the presents. Since we are used to a more anonymous way of presenting our gifts, this part of the ceremony was new to us. Every group had to deliver their presents by dancing their way to the front. Most of the groups came bearing goats, kangas and money. Then it was our time to shine; the two of us, representing C-re-a.i.d., had to form the world’s smallest polonaise. In an attempt to be original, we had created an origami C-re-a.i.d. logo with cash. We then needed to explain this was indeed money, and not some random folded paper, and according to the tradition we had to publicly declare the amount we offered the couple.
19:20 Although the buffet was plentiful, dessert still needed to be presented. A nicely decorated cake then entered the party, and to great applause the newlyweds cut the cake. In a way of thanking their guests for coming to this joyous day they had to feed all of them a small piece of the frosted cake.
20:00 Get on your dancing shoes! Due to party vibes, no more information can be made public.
Thank you once more Msafiri and Luciana for having us and congratulations!