The One With Mayega's kwanjula
Trip Start Jul 28, 2009
47Trip End Mar 13, 2010
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Now, I am not aware of all the tiny details concerning the preparations for such a kwanjula, but it seems to be something to keep you on your toes until the last second. Well, Mayega seemed to be quite overwhelmed and indeed he had people take care of all kinds of things for him
The actual event is also quite special. Both sides of the family have some kind of spokesperson, who negotiates on their behalf. Surely, the groom’s negotiator has to try and keep the prices down (which includes fines as you easily could get fined for anything deviant), while the spokesperson of the bride’s family has to try to push the prices up. So, the best way of describing a kwanjula is thus a battle of wits and cultural tongue twisting. And precisely this battle is what makes this ceremony so memorable. Now, since I was the only mzungu in this function I can assure you that the spokesperson of both sides made very good use of me to the great amusement of the rest of the guests
The ceremony went on for quite some time. And Maggie, the bride-to-be, was nowhere to be seen. The thing is that Mayega had talked to Maggie’s Ssenga, which is a very special auntie, and we needed to find her as she was the only one who knew us. So, a number of women were brought out and none of them knew us, which meant the spokesperson of Maggie wanted to send us packing. However, our spokesperson gave them money for transport (which I thought was kinda funny) to go and fetch the right ssenga. She came, knew us, and identified Mayega as the groom-to-be. But we still had to identify Maggie, as she still had not come. So, a number of girls came out. Now, Mayega’s sister(s) - there were many girls and despite Goretti’s attempts to tell me who is who I could not keep track as it seems like Mayega has a huge family and all of them girls - has to present Maggie with some flowers. And they chose me to go along, of course. I just stared at the girl next to me and did exactly what she did and hoped that I would not make a terrible blunder. Now, the spokesperson of Maggie’s family wanted me to come to him and get some coins as a present. OOOkayyyy, so I tried to get up (as I was kneeling in front of Maggie as a sign of respect, I guess) without ruining my Gomesi. The thing with those Gomesis (traditional female dresses of the Buganda kingdom) is that they are too big and too long and have all those excess fabric hanging on the side
Mayega also asked me to give a speech as it would be ‘soo very nice’, as he put it. With the help of sweet Goretti I created a small speech in Luganda with the few words and phrases I know. It amused people so much. I was of course so very nervous having all those people stare at me. What if that cheeky spokesperson would aske me something? To prevent that I inserted a phrase saying that I do not know their language well and therefore only say a few words. It worked, people were amused, thought it was cute and congratulated me the entire evening on that speech. (By the time we left and brought some things to Mayega’s aunti’s house they had already heard about my speech even though they were not at the kwanjula.).
The groom is supposed to bring loads of presents to the bride’s family
With this much money spent, the Christian wedding will be some other time!