As soon as Chenia and her mother finished in the Masvingo police station getting a police report on the accident filed we quickly set off again to make it to the wedding.
This was an outdoor Zimbabwean Roman Catholic ceremony which was taking place in the lovely gardens of Peter’s Lodge.
As the wedding was already in progress when we arrived, we quickly were given seats so that we could watch the final twenty minutes or so of the ceremony.
While the bridal party left the site for a while to have pictures taken, the rest of us moved to the lawn where the reception tent was set up and I was continued to be introduced to all of the many family members, who seemed delighted that I was joining the festivities.
I have to admit that the dining part of the reception was a little overwhelming for me. Or should I say, the buffet line was. Our table was right next to the Elders table and of course they proceeded everyone into the buffet line. I was escorted up following the elders by another one of the Aunts of the bride who was sitting on my right. She took masterful control of me (yes, I know an impossible task) and was determined that I have the best treatment possible at this wedding. So into the buffet line up we got along with her 7 year old granddaughter.
Well, the line up was positively claustrophobic for me as everyone was rushing to get into line behind the Elders and there was absolutely no room to even breath. My chaperon had a tight grip on me and was determined to not only keep me in front of her in the line up but to also not lose an inch of ground to anyone else. So I was pushed, prodded, stepped on and feeling ready to jump out of line but knew that I couldn’t as it would offend. Luckily once we got up to the plates and buffet tables one of the Elder’s happily stood a side to let me in line ahead of him. With my meal secured I was able to retreat back to the safety of our table and enjoy the excellent food with Chenia’s family.
Mrs Hwehwe is a great “Gogo” (grandmother in Shona) and she is Gogo to both of the little girls in the picture in white dresses. The slightly older one just visible to the left of the picture gave me a new party trick to try out at the next formal event that I go to. As we were sitting eating our meal, which contained rice, I looked up at one point to respond to someone across the table from me. While looking up I noticed that the young lady in a beautiful white formal dress had her spoon down her top digging out rice from her chest area. I was totally in awe and can’t wait to practice that technique myself 🙂
Now I am sure that you are all on pins and needles waiting to hear about my most embarrassing moment. Well, I am definitely getting to the moment and it isn’t sticking a large spoon down my chest in search of food.
Following our meal the DJ started to play music and Chenia’s mom and aunt had promised to show me how to dance traditional African style. So up we got to boogie off our amazing meal. The tradition at weddings here is that the bridal party enters the reception dancing and are led in by a dancing female contingent. So here I was smack dab in the front of the tent and bridal walkway dancing away to the delight of those accompanying me. I know, I have no shame. But the worse was yet to come. Apparently my dancing antics where preventing the bridal party from making their grand entrance. It took the DJ several tries to drown out the antics of my own personal dance party to get us to move out of the way. Oh dear, but this still not the worst!
So my dance team made way and up the aisle came the bridal party
The women who lead the bridal party in to the reception, not only dance, they do this wonderful sound that is hard to describe but the instant you hear it you know that it is a celebratory sound. It is what really distinguishes weddings here as African. And this sound is what really ended up being my most mortifying moment at this wedding.
I know, holding the bridal party’s grand entrance up just wasn’t enough for me. It is truly a wonder that the bride didn’t have me forcibly removed from the premise. I guess the fact that her Aunts were the ones responsible for my behavior saved me.
So here is the description of my single most mortifying moment ever!!!!
Following the formalities of the reception there was more dancing. Of course twinkle toes just can’t get enough and Mrs. Hwehwe and her sisters/sister-in laws couldn’t wait to get me back on the dance floor. And back on the dance floor (grass) we went. I guess you could say that I truly got into the moment and was obliviously dancing away attempting to incorporate the traditional dance moves that I had been taught earlier. Somethings require your full concentration.
The next thing I know the reception had ground to halt and I am being fully surrounded in a full circle by virtually everyone in attendance. The women are making their celebratory noise, the men are clapping and shouting and there must have been a dozen camera phones out and filming a white girl who can’t dance! I truly just wanted to disappear in that moment!!!! But again, all of the cultural training I have been getting obviously is taking effect. I remained in the middle of the dance circle with my other partners in crime and prayed for the song to end. Which it eventually did but I was prevented from leaving the dance floor when I wanted to….
Yes, there are videos of this. Me in utter embarrassment. No, I don’t have a copy yet but I am living in fear of a version showing up anytime on YouTube. Chenia has video of it but I have yet not received a copy from her. I am not sure that I want to see it! Nor am I sure what I will do with it if I do get a copy.
Yet somehow throughout all of my outrageous behavior, the bride didn’t hold my offences against me and actually thanked me for coming to her wedding. That is true class. And her aunts. They were utterly delighted with me and my behavior. Apparently so was the majority of the attendees. They were thrilled that I came and participated so enthusiastically. They were still talking about it the next day I was told. I was even given a gift by the family of 3 meters of traditional material so that I can have a traditional dress made to attend other events. And yes, I was invited back!
Buche’s daughter, who is an expert seamstress is currently whipping up my new dress for me. I will be sure to show you a picture of it. However, after this escape I have sworn that I am never attending another wedding here in Sub-Sahara Africa, ever! Lawrence’s response to that was two-fold:
- He and I are invited to another wedding here in Botswana in July and he determined to make me attend with him
- He says that I have to come to his wedding.
Perhaps by then I will be over my mortification. Who knows? Not having the incriminating videos going viral on YouTube will help 🙂