Last weekend, I traveled to Hoima (about four hours north by northwest of Mukono) to attend one of my student’s introduction and wedding, and to visit my friend, the Rev. Cindy Larsen. Cindy’s been on my neck (as we say) to come upcountry, and Rosemary’s nuptials provided the perfect opportunity.
At the reception with Cindy Larsen, my gracious host.
I’ve attended other introductions, but this is a different tribe, so I wasn’t quite sure how things would progress. In the main, it worked as I expected: the bride’s family and friends were seated, and then the groom’s family entourage arrived. Different groupings of females (usually beginning with children and working up through teens to women) came out of the house, dancing, and then knelt on the mat for the groom to determine whether the bride was there. Of course she’s not, but the girls were rewarded with small gifts.
The girls were so lovely in their gomesi (traditional dresses)!
Since Rosemary is ordained, one of the groups that came out was a set of Anglican priests! It was just fabulous. It was all the more fabulous because the one designated to give the ladies their gifts was a Muslim man. Oh, the irony! I was laughing too hard to take pictures at that point.
Each side has an emcee, and towards the end of the parade, the groom’s emcee implored the bride’s emcee to bring her, whether by car or by helicopter (accompanied by sound effects, because there’s always a DJ). And so Rosemary emerged, accompanied by her maids, to much fanfare and cheering.
Solomon then followed the procedure for “choosing” Rosemary, and then the groom’s entourage went to get the dowry. The Western influence has caused there to be some consternation over the word dowry, so now I hear it being referred to as “gifts” rather than a dowry, though that is what it is. The bride price had been negotiated previously, and had Solomon failed to bring the entire gift, there would have been serious repercussions.
Then certificates were signed and exchanged, and Rosemary and Solomon were be considered to be culturally, or traditionally, married. However, since they are Christians, they must be wedded in church. To me, being married and being wed are synonymous, but in Africa, the distinction is critical.
Another joy was seeing several of my students, who are Rosemary’s classmates, as well as a couple graduates. Denis, one of my students, saw me, and his eyes lit up. When he came to greet me, he informed me that I made his day. That, of course, blessed me tremendously.
L to R: Eriab, current student; Flossy, graduate; someone’s wife and daughter; Denis’ wife and daughter; Esther, current student. Back: James, current student; Denis, current student; Asaph, current student; a first year student.
We were blessed with a short rainstorm (because rain is always a blessing) while Rosemary and Solomon went from one side to another, being received and welcomed into each family. While those of us in the tents scooted back to avoid getting wet, the maids had to stand in the rain and wait for Rosemary to finish. I hope they get extra rewards in heaven for that!
The wedding the next day was lovely. Rosemary has served the diocese faithfully for many years, and she is dearly loved. The cathedral was completely full of people who came to see “their girl” wed.
Clearly, I took this when we arrived, but by the time the service started, the cathedral was packed.
The reception was a joyous extension of the service; the tents were labeled, which assisted greatly with seating.
The emcees returned for the reception, providing a running commentary on the proceedings (“Rev. Jessica from UCU is being served the cake!” I kid you not.). Cakes here are not sliced individually, but are cut into bite-sized pieces, and the plate is passed around.
Notice how the cake is pre-cut, even for the bride and groom. Traditionally, the bride kneels to feed the groom.
When it was time to bring the gifts, I joined the line to present the gift to Rosemary and Solomon, and the maids formed an assembly line to stack the gifts on the stage.
The maid brigade was hard at work; I joined the line early.
The line is rather long here, and it had to have repeated itself at least twice. Cindy and I were joking that they won’t ever need anything, because they’ve been given everything they need.
It was a lovely weekend of fellowship and rejoicing. Please join me in praying for Rosemary and Solomon as they begin their new life together.