We were very happy to be invited to attend the celebration of the wedding of Frida Guga and Alois Magambo. Frida is the daughter of Bwana Emmanuel, who is in charge of the farm at Irente Children’s Home. Alois’ mother is a Director at the Irente Blind School.
Here in Tanzania there are several customs that are different from at home. Before a wedding, the family of the bride hosts a “Send Off” for their daughter. While it is a fun celebration, it is also the time that the family says good bye to their daughter. When a woman marries here, she leaves her family and becomes a part of her husband’s family.
The send off is similar to a bridal shower. Guests bring gifts to help the bride with her new home. The is music, singing, and great food.
At the send off on Friday, the 20th of April, the bride to be arrived with her maid of honor, both dressed in beautiful gold gowns. They entered the hall, walking in that solemn step-pause that you see in very formal weddings and graduations. The front of the hall was decorated beautifully. Many speaches were made by the bride, her father and mother, the maid of honor and several members of the family. The bride and the maid of honor also paid their respects to the family of the groom. Then they cut the cake and served each other as the bride and groom would.
Later, the bride walked down the aisle of the hall, very slowly. She looked to her left and right as she walked. Mama Mdemu explained that she was searching for her groom. Finally, she found him hiding near the back of the hall. She presented him with a red rose and he escorted her back to the front of the room. They sat together at the front of the room, but then he and his best man returned to their seats at the back. The guests came forward to present their gifts.
After that it was time to eat. The bride’s family went to the groom’s family and escorted them to the serving line. The send off is hosted by the bride’s family. The room was packed with guests who lined up for the food. Later there was more music and singing by the church choir.
On Saturday, the reception was also held in Irente Chapel next to our home. Again, the room was beautifully decorated. The wedding and reception are both hosted by the groom’s family. There was a DJ who played music and also a woman who who served as “Master of Ceremony”. The reception was very much like any we have attended at home. The bride was dressed in a beautiful white gown and veil. The maid of honor was all in pink. The groom and best man were dressed in black tuxes with pink shirts and white satin ties.
At the reception, only people with invitations were at first allowed into the hall. Once all of the invited guests were seated, others were allowed in as standing room only permitted. Many more people crowded at the windows of the hall to watch. At the send off, the food was prepared at the Children’s Home. The reception was catered and the buffet was presided over by a chef in full white uniform and chef’s hat. When it was time for the food, the people standing in the aisle and in the back were directed to leave the hall. Once the invited guests had gone to fill their plates, all of the others were invited in to eat too. Everyone was served, even stray children from the next village who walked over to see the celebration.
We enjoyed being part of both occasions. At one point at the wedding, the MC called Tom up to the front. At first we thought they were going to ask him to speak, but she wanted him to dance with some of the women from the family. After a short time, I went up to join them. Later, she invited different couples to come up to dance, the bride and grooms parents, aunts and uncles, and then she called on Tom and I. We did our best with an American style slow dance, which they all seemed to enjoy.
We were very privileged to be included among the guests at these celebrations.