1 Corinthians 11:11 "
Nevertheless, neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man in the Lord. "
Marriage is a significant event with lots of ceremony and tradition in Africa.
Tonight was a real cultural experience. Aimable called about 4 p.m. and invited us to the "paying of the dote" ceremony. We went early to find the place and went in and sat down. We talked to a young man who was there for Frida. He had been in Holland. After we sat for awhile on the side he said was Aimable’s, he came and told us that the groom's friends and family arrive late and come in together and are greeted by the bride’s family. So we stepped out and waited another half hour.
Finally Aimable came, gathered his family and friends. He walked in with an entourage of girls bearing gifts. We all followed and were greeted by the bride's family, photographed and sat down. Then the two uncles (both fathers were killed in the war.) started a back and forth dialogue. One would speak for a few minutes and then the other. “So you are here asking for someone. Are you sure you are in the right place? I don’t see her.” Then the other one- “We will pray and maybe she will appear.” “We want to see your gifts and see if you are serious.” “We want to see the girl and see if she is worth it.” These were light hearted fun speeches. The translations we got were very much shorter than the Kirundi. Finally Aimable’s side brought gifts born by girls in dresses all alike. The bride’s family looked at the gifts. And over the loudspeaker you heard the mooing of a cow. Then they said, “We want to check out the cow and see if it is healthy.” “Okay it looks good, we accept your gift.” “Now we want to see the girl.”
Finally an entourage of girls in dresses alike came with Frida who was being presented by her brother. Aimable and his friend met her and he gave her a ring and a very friend-type hug. They went up on the stand and hugged each other’s families and took a seat at the head table. Then more dialogue. We were getting pretty sleepy, (I guess we are not so good at listening to foreign languages for long periods of time.) but we hung in there until we got to hug Frida and Aimable. She was radiant and his smile was wide as usual.
That was on Thursday. Saturday was the actual wedding. The marriage itself took place in a government office somewhere with family members present. The celebration was held at Branch One which offers a beautiful setting.
Guests arrived early and waited for the arrival of the Bride and Groom. Almost every woman was dressed in traditional style. Men wore suits, some tuxedos.
Finally the Bride and Groom arrive and go to the front. We started with a song and prayer, then the Bride and Groom receive advice. Jean Paul and his wife first spoke to them, then President Mabingo.
The choir from Branch 2 sang as well.
The festivities continued outside in the yard but the Bride and Groom first took a ride together before returning to walk down the especially prepared path where they cut the ribbon at the arch and entered the place of honor.
Advice and talks are plentiful. We should have paid for a translator, then it would have been more fun. Some of the talks are serious, some more light hearted. They are given by the oldest presiding member of the family. Since both fathers of this couple are deceased, the uncles gave the talks. They talk a lot about unifying the family and supporting the young couple in their new life together.
Rather than the couple dancing, others dance for them. Three traditional dancers provided entertainment.
Refreshments were served by the couples friends and family. You could choose from a Fanta, Coke, juice or water. They brought it to your seat. Aimable estimated there were around 500 people in attendance.
After the talks, people were invited to come up and give the couple their gifts.
Frida will have been a member of the church a year in November. We hope to go with them to South Africa to be with them when they are sealed as an eternal family.