Last week, the most exciting and hyped up event was Stephen and Monica’s Introduction at Faith’s house on Thursday. Her house was packed with all sorts of people setting up and getting ready and the number of kids running around was nuts. The wedding itself was in Fort Portal on Saturday.
The Introduction is a purely Ugandan ceremony that is best described as a well staged play. It involves the groom’s family arriving at the bride’s home and publicly negotiating with her family the dowry, including how many cows to give. Since Monica is an orphan, Faith (who is somehow related) hosted. However, she did not talk since traditionally fathers hammer out the details. Another part of the Introduction involved the groom choosing his correct fiancé out of serveral “Monica’s” presented in staggered groups throughout the afternoon. The first group involved children (including Juliette, Daphne, and Sharon from Home Again) while the other two were all made of adults (including Prossy and Debra). In total, there were probably around 20 “Monica’s”. They were all dressed in beautiful traditional clothing. Monica only appeared in the last group and was by far the most dressed up girl with a lot of gold in her hair and wearing very fancy, shimmery material. There were lots of Rutooro jokes and Dharaja, the children’s choir, also performed. They were my absolute favorite part. Faith’s house was beautifully decorated and painted for the 400 guests. Nearly everyone from BHTF was there, including the children from Home Again we were pretty sure skipped school. While the negotiations were real, some of the presents were symbolic. One girl told us that the Introduction was really a lesson for the groom to learn patience.
On Saturday, the wedding was at a small, somewhat dirty church completely filled with guests. Several church choirs sang and a special dance group also gave a performance. Juliette, Purity, and Victor acted as flower girls and boy. Stephen and Monica sat at chairs at the front of the church with big smiles on their faces. After all of the welcoming and introductions were made (and trust me, there were A LOT), the two exchanged vows, hugged (PDA is not very acceptable in Uganda), and signed their marriage certificate. While the Introduction involved traditional dress and about 4 outfit changes for Monica during the half day event, the groom and bride dressed in suit & tie and white wedding dress at the church. The wedding lasted 4 hours, mostly because of the religious singing and dancing. Even though those took up the most time, they were also fun. The couple also received a sermon from Stephen’s uncle on how to be good to each other that honestly sounded rather repetitive and long to me. In fact, both ceremonies were very dragged out and we did not stay for the entirety of either. We also showed up more than 2 hours early to both. I went with Caroline (a volunteer from last year) and the Schaad family. All of it was pretty drawn out and boring and I really wouldn’t have gone if Stephen hadn’t been such a great friend and lived in our house 2 years ago. But now I don’t think I’ll be going to another wedding for a very long time.
Otherwise, nothing much has happened. A lot of the volunteer groups have left. We’ve started playing volleyball and found a mini market in Fort Portal that sold really pretty, unique African material. We also enjoyed ice cream over the weekend and got caught in a rainstorm walking back to Mountains of the Moon. Kelsey (Schaad) got to deliver a baby at the clinic and I’ve slowly taught the babies my name. Kato (I’ve been spelling his name wrong this whole time) has started running up to me and asking me to pick him up almost every time I see him. I’ve been more than happy to comply. With less than 2 weeks left here, I’m looking forward to helping the DukeEngage team build classrooms at Kyongera and to continue visiting Home Again.