Friday was the big day for J’s good friend and Jason was busy with his best man duties. A few days before he had to go to pay the bride price to her family and then the day before the wedding he went over to the new house they will live in to see everything and make sure things were delivered as promised. The day of the actual wedding we arrived a bit early to the first location (his friend’s office and home) and they whisked Jason away to give him his best man make over. They emerged about 20 minutes later and J was wearing the local version of a “rented tux.”
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the bwana harusi (groom) and his 2 best friends…..check out J’s finger in this picture..he had no idea he was doing that but for sure it sums up his feelings about wearing this outfit in the heat šŸ™‚

Before staring to take pictures his friend insisted that he change his dorky flip flops and so one of the drivers of the dala dalas gave up his shoes for the day and traded with Jason since apparently his shoes were not cutting it!

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quick shoe make-over…check out the goat skin…

After lots of waiting we all piled into dala dalas, cars, and vans and we were off to the first location where the actual official wedding would take place. It was a crazy bumpy and winding road and as I followed the cars in front of me I seriously wondered how in the world we were all going to be able to park in the village area. But as is always the case there was space, or in reality they made room by squeezing all the vehicles in, practically on top of each other. One of the buses drove its front end into a duka! As we all unloaded the men started playing drums and before everyone was even out of the cars the women were singing and screaming and dancing to the house. It was like a chaotic, colorful, loud, and fabulous parade of people!
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sort of like “where is Waldo?” only you are looking for the Wazungus…and not so hard to spot šŸ™‚
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simai's wedding- J best man 045.jpgedit Anni LOVES a culture where wearing dress up clothes and jewelry will result in tons of “umependeza” comments…

The girls and I went with a bunch of women for more dancing (err..swaying), strong shots of coffee, and sweet snacks served as we all sat on mats. We did not see Jason for the next hour of so. He was with the sheha, the other best man, and the groom signing and making everything official. After about an hour the mother of the groom ran out and screamed “Ameoa…tayari!!” (he is married…it is done!) and everyone responded by equally enthusiastic hooting and hollering and this crazy high pitched noise the women make called vigeligeli. We were escorted in to see the bibi harusi (bride) who actually smiled!!!
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This was not the only tradition they did not follow as Jason would soon discover. I missed this part but as we always do when we return home after events we “debrief” of sorts and tell each other everything we saw. In a culture that is so seperated by gender this is how we peice together the full story of everything that happened! He shared that after they “funga ndoa” (literally closed the wedding) the men all went into the bedroom where the bride is always kept with her relatives. Jason had to sit down on the bed next to the bride with the groom on one side and the other best man on the other side. They took pictures and then the bride and groom kissed!! But we are talking like PG-13 kissing for sure! Jason was so shocked he almost laughed out loud since it was soooo weird. Now, I realize this may not be crazy for an American wedding but for a culture where men and women do not even usually eat in the same room and never hold hands (even if they are married) seeing them tongue kiss in front of a room full of people has to go down as the most bizarre thing J has seen yet. Jason also had to laugh as his friend was sharing that he was super excited about the wedding night. Yikes: T.M.I!
After another hour or so we were all called over and the women ran in the house where the bride was staying. Then some of her relatives went inside hollering and got her and carried her around outside (making sure her face was covered with a kanga (since people are not supposed to see her). I swear they almost dropped her on her head at least 3 times since they were making their way through tons of people gathered to watch everything.
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carrying the bride through the crowd
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the men chatting it up…
Then they loaded the bibi harusi in a car and everyone gathered to load back in to the vehicles to go to location #3: back to the area where the groom’s family lives. Evy and Anni were pretty exhausted at this point and I was ready to head home but after being put in charge of taking some important guest I knew there was no leaving early…and for sure no sneaking out as we are pretty noticeable.
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After some more waiting and shuffling of stuff and people we were off to their new house (location #4). This was only about 10 minutes away if they roads had been …….how shall I say…actual roads. Some woman I had just met was driving our car since Evy was screaming to nurse and was not having being passed around any longer. Even if you payed me a million bucks there is NO WAY I could ever find this place again on my own (in fact the whole caravan got lost twice and had to turn around in tight spaces!). By the time we actually arrived the sun was quickly disappearing making the hike to the house a bit adventurous to say the least.
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We finally arrived and we got to congratulate them on their home. After carrying the bride to the bedroom everyone again started singing. From what I could make out it was something like “she got married (only in Kiswahili you say the passive version of the verb, like she was married upon) to her groom, and he is good.” Some people lit some candles and we were all crammed into this small house. Some people started to leave about 10 minutes later and since the bugs were starting emerge to bite our Wazungu selves we said our thank yous and goodbyes and headed home (of course dropping lots of folks off on our way). It was a memorable day for sure! Jason learned a ton about the culture and about how they celebrate marriage. Maybe even too much šŸ™‚ as he also was let in that as is tradition a Bibi type woman will stay with the newlyweds in their house for a few weeks after they get married. Her job is to help around the house but her primary role is to make sure the new bride fulfills her “wifely duties” and we are NOT talking cooking or cleaning. She sleeps feet away from their room in this tiny house with no electricity. Some things are just so different!
It was for sure an amazing experience for all of us and J was happy he could support his friend through this whole journey. Ameoa…tayari!!!
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simai's wedding- J best man 020.jpgeditour fam…wedding glam!

  1. Anonymous says:

    I loved reading about this experience – I've been waiting for this post! What an honor for a mzungu to be asked to serve as best man!! Sounds like Jason did his best from start to finish. I loved the “where's Waldo” picture! Was it hot that day??? Cuz wearing all of those clothes could have been brutal if it was! Thanks for the detailed account.

  2. Anonymous says:

    WOW!!! so awesome that you go to experience this.. so interesting to read about.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Loved reading this post (and photos). Thank you for sharing so much and so often–I'm learning a lot!