My most embarrassing Wedding moment ever!

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.

A garden view from the reception area
A garden view from the reception area
Chenia and one of her nieces
Chenia and one of her nieces

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.

The view from our seats of the ceremony
The view from our seats of the ceremony

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The Bridal Couple leaving the ceremony
The Bridal Couple leaving the ceremony

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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.

The reception tent
The reception tent

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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 and her grandaughter
Mrs Hwehwe and her grandaughter

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 ūüôā

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

Bridal party waiting to make their dancing entrance
Bridal party waiting to make their dancing entrance

 

The beautiful bride
The beautiful bride

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The accompanying dancers to the bridal party
The accompanying dancers to 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!

the material I was given as a present
the material I was given as a present

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:

  1. He and I are invited to another wedding here in Botswana in July and he determined to make me attend with him
  2. 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 ūüôā

 

 

My Saturday in Mochudi

Saturday was a fantastic and memorable day for me for several reasons. The first is that I got to spend the entire day and evening simply hanging out and having fun with my best buddy Lawrence.

Lawrence is now renting a house for him and his little brother in Mochudi which is about 35 kms from Gaborone. He has wanted to move out of Gaborone for a while now and this house was perfect for him. He just moved into it last weekend (Easter weekend) and has already become well established in the community…there will be more about that in a minute.

Normally you need to take a combi to travel back and forth between Gaborone and Mochudi, however, Lawrence always thinks of everything when it comes to me. He arranged for me to get a drive to Mochudi with his friend Richard, also from Zimbabwe. So after a very pleasant drive to Mochudi with Richard we pulled up to Lawrence’s gate which needed to be opened for us to drive through. Of course I was fully prepared to jump out and open the gate while Richard drove through….these Zimbabwe men are such pains as they are “mostly” gentlemen.

Richard was both shocked and appalled that I would even consider getting out to open the gate for him. So like a good girl I quietly (yes, I said quietly) sat there and didn’t protest. By this time Lawrence had heard our approach and came out on to his front porch. He had noted that it was Richard, not me, who had opened and closed the gate. That made him smile! But don’t worry, when we left the yard later on, he let me open and close the gate…small accomplishments for equality!

What can I say about Lawrence’s new home, other than it is perfect right down to the chickens running around in the yard. There are four houses located in the same yard. The view is fantastic and the house is truly a home. For someone who just moved in a week before it appeared like they had been living there for some time. He even has it beautifully decorated….I think that there is some¬†metro-sexual¬†in that boy! But that is to be expected of someone who can strut and preen with the best of them ūüėČ

The Dingwa Home
The Dingwa Home

There was a full slate of activities for the day, but none of which could come before feeding me. Lawrence had his little brother slaving over a hot stove in the morning preparing lunch for Richard and I. It was tasty and¬†delicious. Following lunch we all piled into Lawrence’s car. Picture one white chick and three Zimbabwe men cruising through the town of Mochudi sight seeing with the music turned up loud. From my vantage point in the back seat I began to feel a bit like the Queen waving at people as we passed. I am sure that the residents of Mochudi had never experienced such a sight. But I am happy to say that we left a trail of smiles and laughter every where we went.

After some sight seeing and exploration of Mochudi we were then off to attend the wedding of Mmoniemang ¬†& Keneilwe . ¬†Here in Botswana there is no such thing as one simple wedding ceremony. In fact, there can be up to four different ceremonies for a couple! The first is civil ceremony held at the District Commissioner’s office which is the legal ceremony. The next is the church ceremony followed by celebrations a week or so apart with first the Groom’s family and¬†neighbors¬†and then with the Bride’s. The¬†celebration we attended was the final one held at the Bride’s home.

Welcome to the Wedding
Welcome to the Wedding

Our invitation to attend came¬†curtsy¬†of ¬†one of the bridesmaids who in just a week had become completely smitten with Lawrence, and really, how couldn’t she? As for me, never a real fan of weddings I was eager to participate in one here in Botswana as I was told it is truly special. I have also never attended a wedding with three handsome dates before either – just another first for me ūüôā

The beautiful Lorraine
The Bridal Party
The Bride & Groom
The Bride & Groom

We arrived just as the wedding party was kicking of their heels in a dance down the red carpet runner laid out in front of the banqueting tents. The joy, laughter and sense of celebration was immediately evident! While we congregated under a large tree for shade to watch the festivities, a woman came and lead us to seats under the canopy with a great view of the celebration. Every special event here has specific colours associated with it, such as black & gold, blue and white, or yellow and green. The colours for Saturday were yellow & green. The bridesmaids were in yellow and green, the tents were festooned with yellow & green draping, etc.

The beautiful Lorraine
The beautiful Lorraine

Once seated with my three handsome escorts, I unrolled the yellow programme tied up with a yellow & green ribbon so that I could have an idea of what to expect. Here is the programme content:

Programme

Master of Cermonies

Welcoming Speech – MC

Opening Prayer – Bishop

Introduction of Families by Uncles

Uncle Daniel

Uncle Dintwe

Photo shooting

Music item x 2

Lunch

Music item x 2

Change

Groom and Bride Speeches

Music item x 2

Counselling of the Bride

Entertainment

I got slightly panicky when I saw that lunch was being served as I had just eaten not that long ago at Lawrence’s and knew that there was no way I could work my way through a big plate of traditional food. However, I was reassured that it would take hours before we actually got to the food. Assured, I sat back in my chair to enjoy the celebration. And by the way, the ribbons that my programme was tied in got braided into a¬†bracelet¬†for me to wear because I had noted to my companions that I wasn’t wearing either yellow or green! Problem solved thanks to quick thinking by Lawrence.

My goofy escorts
My goofy escorts – Lawrence & Richard

Unfortunately almost of the speeches and prayers were in Setswana so I could not understand everything but between my companions and seat mate quick translations were done to keep me up to speed. The introduction of the families was a spirited interlude where all family present was recognized and introduced to the crowd. All too quickly plates were being gathered up and heaped with food. Once again panic set in as I am truly not a big eater and I didn’t want to offend anyone. However, I had nothing to worry about.

Introducing the family
Introducing the family

The food was¬†delicious! In fact, the best traditional food that I have had so far. Even though my plate was heaped high with food that I couldn’t possible eat, the culture here is to share with others so what I couldn’t consume got quickly passed around the table and did not go to waste. Following the food were very romantic and poignant speeches by the Groom and Bride.

The Romantic Speeches
The Romantic Speeches

I, of course was holding out for the Counselling of the Bride listed on the programme. However a very smart and efficient Lawrence saw fit to remove me from the proceedings so that I would not be tempted to provide counselling of my own to the blushing bride ūüėČ Truthfully, he knows that I can only behave myself for so long and we had been there a couple of hours. So I was swept away for more sight seeing and meeting more handsome Zimbabwe gentlemen. ¬†A woman can never be surrounded by too many handsome men!

Silly boys!
Silly boys!

The rendezvous site was a local bar. ¬†Once again, I was the only light skinned person who was now accompanied by five men! To say that we attracted a little attention would be putting it mildly but as Lawrence has learned, accompanying me makes him far more appealing to women so my companions didn’t suffer. My only challenge came when I made a trip to the ladies room. Having left my purse in the trunk of the car I was ill prepared.

The much better behaved side of the table
The much better behaved side of the table

First of all as I learned during my first trip to Africa twenty five years ago it is always best to carry your own toilet paper just in case. With no purse, I had no tissues, oops!! Hoping for the best I entered the toilets. The other factor about women’s toilets in this part of Africa, ¬†users commonly do not close the door. I have not yet perfected the true nonchalance¬†required to ¬†stand outside of the wide open cubicles will the users calmly go about their business. There really is nothing else that you can do but graze adoringly at the floor hoping it will open up and swallow you. However, all was not so bad as the first lady to exit graciously shared her wad of toilet paper with me. I can tell you that I happily closed the door so that I could pee in private.

Following our interlude at the bar and my¬†traumatic¬†toilet break we returned to the wedding celebration for the dancing. As I noted earlier, my companions enjoy music as much…if not more than I do so we had been driving around all day with great music. Pulling up to the Bride’s home Lawrence’s MP3 began playing a song that seemed to send all of the male¬†inhabitants¬†of the vehicle into fits of soleful and dramatic singing along. No sooner than the car halted then they all spilled out and began singing and dancing to the song.

For once I sat firmly ensconced in the back seat laughing….you see the scene was very similar to one that I had participated in just a couple of weeks ago. When the outside dance party that I was attending with my friends Erin and Sheila got hit by rain, we only made it as far as Erin’s car where we then promptly danced to her stereo for about twenty minutes in the pouring rain. It seems that this¬†behavior¬†is not restricted to foolish women. My companions noted that I hadn’t joined them and there was no choice but to come out and join the insanity.

Richard teaching me dance moves!
Richard teaching me dance moves!

The rest of the evening was spent in singing and dancing until everyone piled back into Lawrence’s car so he could safely return me to Peter’s Place and the relative quiet of my apartment. After two nights out dancing I was finally ready to go home and chill out! But only after plans were made for a return trip to Mochudi!

POST SCRIPT: ¬†Please note that it was a guy taking the pictures so that is why I do not have one really good one of the bride! Oh well, Lawrence did takes lots of great pictures of one particular bridesmaid ūüėČ

I wonder who is his favorite?
I wonder who is his favorite?