Saturday, February 28, 2015

Last Weekend's Wedding

Last weekend I had the good fortune to go to the wedding of one of our Lulu girls, Hamisa. 

 The wedding announcement and the wedding invitation. Unlike in the US when you get a "save the date" card, this wedding announcement card (on the right) doesn't say the date. It just tells you that you've been invited and how much you have to pay to attend. The actual invitation comes out a few days before the wedding and is your official entry card to get into the wedding on the day-of.

It was actually the first official wedding of a Lulu participant since we started the program. Many of the Lulu girls have boyfriends, "fiances," or live-in partners, but marriages are kind of a more complicated arrangement for many of our girls. In Tanzania there are three types of marriages- religious marriages, tribal marriages, and civil marriages. There are different customs or requirements for each type and many times poorer people, for various reasons usually related to finance and dowry price, can't pull off an official marriage. So it was kind of unusual and a fun occasion for many reasons to go to this wedding. Also, the bride and groom are Muslim, so I was excited to see how this wedding would be different from other Christian weddings I'd been to here in TZ.

The bride and groom stand together. According to tradition she is leaving her family and joining his so she is not supposed to smile, otherwise it will look like she's happy to get away from her parents and family.

I'll start off right off the bat and say that as far as I could tell the wedding wasn't much different because it was a Muslim wedding. Other than there being no alcohol (in plain sight) and it taking place at the home rather than in a Church everything else seemed the same. And by "the same" I mean VERY different from a wedding in the US. Weddings here are a several day affair with lots of partying and lots of people. In fact, we showed up to the wedding on the second day and came about 3 hours after we had been invited to show up. And I sure am glad I did! We came in as Hamisa was introducing her side of the family. She cracked a rare smile as we came in and introduced us as her sisters. Following that, they introduced his side of the family. (They have big families so this took a while.) Then, both sides gave a speech and welcomed their new family members.

Her side of the family welcoming the new additions into their home.

Then, they did a procession of gifts to the new couple. People were welcomed up to the "stage" group-by-group -- meaning parents first, then sibling groups, then in-laws, then extended family, then friends, then clubs or communities they might be a part of. Each group danced up their gifts, waving them around and showing them off, while the MC announced what the gift was, and then shook hands with the bride and groom. This took forever! Also, hey took about at 10 minutes at the end for the wedding planning committee (yes, they have that) to process up a gift of a sewing machine.

Hamisa's sister, also a member of Lulu, processed her gift up, wearing her Lulu shirt!

If the gift was small, such a small amount of money, the MC would tease the gift-giver a little bit. This might sound uncomfortable to us because it's so different than the way we do things, but it was actually quite funny and it kind of reminded me of the old school tradition at some American weddings of paying to dance with the bride. At one point some of the groom's brothers gave just a few small shillings (worth pennies) and the MC pulled the money out and said to the groom, "Was that your brother? Your brother by BIRTH!? He just gave 200 shillings (10 cents)! Seriously? OK, tell him God bless him." And at another time the MC actually gave the money back because it was so small. This had everyone in the crowd in hysterics. Keep in mind, of course that the family probably already raised a lot of money for the wedding, so it's not like this is the only time the brother had the opportunity to give money.

The gift giving was followed by dancing by several groups of the family. One cute dance in particular was a dance between her parents and his. Everyone was so smiley and happy.

After that (and I may be getting a little fuzzy on the timeline here because it all started to blend together) they had a few dances by a male dance group. They were dressed in matching outfits and doing flips and stuff. Not too bad, even if I almost got hit a few times.

Being in the first seat of the first row made this a little bit dangerous!

After the dances ended, everyone got food. And by everyone I mean probably about a hundred people or more. They served different food depending on your relationship to the family (honored guests got meat, normal guests got beans) and his side of the family and their guests got food first, since they were considered the "invited guests." I enjoyed the food, though I would've preferred beans and veg, rather than the meat that we got. But still, it was yummy.

At this point we actually slipped out to go home. By now we had already been there over 2 hours and the party was just getting started and if we didn't slip out while we had the opportunity we would've been there well until after dark. All-in-all, though, it was such a wonderful wedding. I really enjoyed how happy everyone was. All the dancing, singing, ululating. It was so fun.

This little Bibi (grandmom) stood behind me, waving her arms, dancing, and ululating the whole time we were there.

What a joyous occasion!

Saturday, February 07, 2015

I was just sitting there... waiting to JUMP JUMP

Last night I was just sitting there...

at Gold Crest Hotel's happy hour (who knew?) jamming out to 90's R&B and rap videos, like Kris Kross. The Daddy Mac'll make ya - JUMP JUMP!

Friday, February 06, 2015

Update on Safari from Hell

You're never going to believe this. Heck, I don't even believe this. But we got the promised money back from our safari guy. If you don't know what I'm referring to, then go back and read this (really long) blog post about our awful experience on Safari in December. After that horrible trip our friend Richard, the safari company owner, said he would refund us a little less than 1/2 of what we paid for the trip. We knew it would be a long shot to get it, but thanks to my husbands persistent efforts (spurred on just a bit possibly by a *little* nagging from me), Richard actually gave us the refund. Check it, cash in hand!

Not the best picture ever, yeah yeah.

Still doesn't make up for almost losing our lives on the way to Ngorongoro Crater, but makes us feel a little vindicated at least. One for the team!

*Side note is that this money looks so funny to me. Guess I'll have to get used to USD again when we return to the States. I was convinced it was counterfeit and kept holding it up to the light to check for watermarks.