Ok, finally a blog post! We are doing well and 3 days ago we celebrated 5 months of marriage! We have been so continually busy here that it’s hard to find time for such things as blog posts, but it is long overdue to catch-you-up on some of the big events of the past few (now long-gone) months (including our wedding!). But since I’m a bit of a perfectionist, I’ll do things in order & start with the Introduction (“Okwanjula”), which was on November 9th, 2007.
It looks like a wedding (except for that pink dress and those robe things), but it’s not. Or is it?? Even though Uganda is becoming increasingly westernized in a lot of ways, many traditions are still practiced. The “Introduction” is when the (potential) groom and his extended family are introduced to the (potential) bride and her extended family. Relatives travel from all over the place to come to Introductions: Aggie’s father and Aunts came from far NE Uganda and her mother’s relatives travelled from Tanzania – both about 10hr, uncomfortable bus trips. Close family friends are also invited, so it ends up being a big event!
I say “potential” groom & bride because this event also determines whether the woman’s family approves of and receives the man and his family. This is firstly decided from a knowledge of the man’s character, and secondly by the negotiation of a dowry (“bride price”) and the giving of lavish gifts of food and supplies to the woman’s side of the family, all furnished by the potential groom (!). If the woman’s family is satisfied with the man, dowry and gifts, they will give him a letter of acceptance – approving of his marriage to the woman. If negotiations don’t go well, the relationship of the man and woman cannot go forward (with family approval). I’m told his happens occasionally, but fortunately for me, Aggie paved the way by negotiating a dowry with her parents before the Introduction, and I guess they thought I was an OK guy! So I was “pre-approved”, *grin*. No worries!
From that description the Introduction sounds like a serious & scary event (which it was in some ways for me), but it’s actually mostly a big celebration. Both families have a representative master of ceremonies (MC) – paid professionals who speak on their behalves. The MCs banter back and forth with clever and HILARIOUS questions, comments and come-backs, involving and engaging the two families. An example, when they were discussing my history: “Paech is a wise man, as he has managed to read every book in the world. His family accomplishments are great – Paech’s grandfather invented the first motor-car, which can now be seen in the Ugandan museum…” My favorite was: “Paech, it seems that your eyes are ever sliding 45 degrees!” (referring to me looking over at Aggie who was off to the side at that time, *laugh*). They also cleverly worked Australia into things. 90% of this was in Luganda, being translated to me by Deo.
The whole event typically goes for a long time (aside: after being to my own and a few others, I have to admit that I now try to avoid them, but Aggie makes me go). Ours went from 2-8pm, with all sorts of really special parts: Aggie choosing me out of the crowd of people (identifying me as her husband-to-be), me choosing Aggie out of 3 groups of girls who paraded by (identifying her as my wife-to-be); an exchange of rings, the cutting of a cake and feeding it (and drink) to eachother, all culminating in what everyone was REALLY there for – a huge meal! Beef, chicken, matooke (the Ugandan staple: cooked green bananas – it’s good stuff!), rice, “irish” potatoes, sweet potatoes, peanut sauce, greens… As the guest of honour, my plate was the biggest of all (couldn’t finish it)!
The Introduction is actually the traditional Ugandan wedding! By Ugandan law, the man and woman are married after the bride’s family gives their approval, and the man is then free to take his wife. But Christian Ugandans also have the traditional wedding that we westerners are familiar with, which is what Aggie and I had 2 days later. So we waited the extra 48 hours, *grin*.
Some of you have already seen a few photos from our wedding, but stay tuned – I’m going to post an entry with a lot more, complete with written details. Hopefully it won’t take me 4 months. Ok…
- If you would like a copy of our Easter newsletter, with details of what we’ve been doing with International Ministries for Christ and a recent family/life update, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
- For more information about what Aggie and I are doing here in Uganda click here.
- And finally, click here for more photos from our Introduction!
Until next time!
Simon & Aggie &:-)}