Marriage.

Such a good thing.

And not just because it’s in the Bible.

Customary marriages however get too complicated too fast and that, my friend, is what I fear. You are not just marrying her. It’s her, her extended family, your neighbours, the bank, the government… And you know what happens when the government get’s all up in your business. Traditional weddings were cool up until I figured out that ‘she is getting married’ in my mother tongue is as niaragurwa, which directly translates to ‘she is being bought’. She is bought by Mr. Soandso i.e, she is married by Soandso. Wow, and women think they are close to getting gender equality. They really need to change that. We have to change our language if we want to change our thinking.

This weekend has so many weddings it was inevitable that I would be asked to go to one, if only to just take pictures. I hate that (being invited just for picture-taking), but go anyway. This was a bit different though as I had an option not to. But I went anyway. Old habits. I knew the bride. Her dad and mine have been friends since they were babies. Think about that for a second. Having a friend for half a century? Is it even possible with our current generation? I mean, they probably lasted that long because they were neighbours and went to the same local school and local boarding and ended up building their houses at their paternal land before moving to Nairobi like 30 years later. In today’s society, you are born in Nairobi, you are not allowed to go out because the other kids are a bad influence, your primary school is a boarding school and so is your secondary school and they are both pretty far apart. Chances of following your childhood buddy from primary school to secondary are pretty slim. Somehow you will find yourself losing contact with your former friend even in this world of Facebook and Yahoo chat jiggle whateverthefuckitiscalled messenger. Probably why this generation’s kids seem shallow, they haven’t invested real emotions with anyone. But I could be wrong, let me know what you think. Do you have a childhood friend that moved apartments/schools/mental institutions/etc that you still best friends with for over 15 years?

Back to the wedding. I was looking at the couple and thinking, ‘Damn, these guys don’t even look thirty. When I am going to marry, get settled and have 17 Dexxelings and post their daily mundane activities on Facebook?’ Then I remember how inasmuch as I love the idea of marriage the wedding part disgusts me. Mainly because I think it is a waste of money. Just that, too much unnecessary money. People take loans to have weddings and that is not something that I would want to get into.  I did not avoid taking that HELB loan just to get myself trapped by this loan for an event that will last 8 hours. These weddings are expensive. I hear they can clock a mil if your wife-to-be wants to really show off. Damn. Then you have to start committees to organise who will contribute this money, who will bargain the bride price, who will compare with the the average price of a woman in today’s market?

(Here’s something I just found out. Dowry is not bride price. If anything, it’s the opposite, we’ve been using it wrong guys.)

To be honest, it’s not just the money thing that is a problem. The people are the main issue. 10s of people all gathered there to celebrate, with I being the center of attention. Talk about unnerving. They’ll take pictures, listen keenly to everything I will say, give stories about what they think of me. Damn, that is too much attention. I will go crazy. I had a taste of that when I had a graduation party. I hated it. I was put on a higher platform than everyone else and had to sit facing everyone. It was crazy. I am not saying ‘I wish I had not graduated so that I wouldn’t have to face people’ but goddamn those were many people. Like 30 or more. What is worse? I had to give a speech. If an earthquake had happened at that exact moment and killed me, I would gone straight to heaven and high-fived God! Nervousness. I don’t remember how that speech went because I was on an adrenaline-rushed autopilot but I probably stammered and kept on repeating myself. It’s my trademark. I have a recording of that event but I avoid looking at it. Clearly I have some kind of issues that need solving. I cannot be this afraid of speaking in public when my whole career depends on it. Something has got to give. Probably my shyness. I am working on that as we speak. More on that later.

Back to the wedding. It is clear that I will have to be on some kind of sedating drug or alcohol before I walk down the aisle, if I don’t get my shit together. I don’t do drugs. Even medicine. Nor alcohol. But that day I will need something to calm me down.  If society was more accepting I would be done with all this marriage thing by simply going to the Attorney General office and voila. Hell, I bet there’s even an app for that. The Marriagizer, I would guess it is called. It’s on OLX.

Another thing I find irritating about weddings is the gift sessions. I am cool with getting the money because, you know, I can use it to repay the loan I got to have you all get videographed by a professional (oh look, he has the lights and everything. Wait, who is that guy, it that a director? If my wedding a freaking movie? Whoa! Where are my tablets. Pop. Pop),  but the cup gifts man. What! I might sue anyone who brings cups to my wedding. My dad still has unwrapped cups from the first wedding. Rest assured I will take those. If we are really a digital Kenya we should have a system where you only get a gift that will be useful to me in my married life. For instance, you can log in to my website and see my wish list and choose whatever you want to help me get. But apparently, tradition does not allow for that as I was explained to earlier.

So this is how it works. Choice of present is mainly according to customary ideals. You have to get this kind of present because you are related this way to the bride or groom. If you are the parents of the bride, you have to buy her a bed. This is to show that you have kicked her out of your house and don’t expect her sleeping in it again. It is a gesture to show that you’ve moved out of your mom’s and even took with you the bed you were sleeping on just to show how serious this is. And since the bed is given to you during the wedding reception, it has to look really good or expensive because you don’t want people to think less of you. Hint for you guys, it’s the bride price money that buys that bed so yeah, get ready. But what if you already have a bed? Well, tough luck, now you have two. Deal with it. I found this custom hilarious but inconveniencing at the same time. But that is what tradition is meant to be, right? Inconveniencing? That might explain the cups.

I will get a better understanding of how all this wedding ceremony goes in detail and post it out soon. It might take a while because I need these old folks to explain it to me but I dunno how to ask about it without them thinking that I am asking because I want to get married. It is difficult to explain a blog concept to them. But you know me, I will find a way.

The reception looked great. Although I think people should stop forcing their grandmothers to speak Swahili. Let someone translate what she is saying if not everyone understands her. It was pretty hilarious hearing things like:

Mimi nimependa mpiki na mpikania kuumagia zamani…

Also when people didn’t know what the bride maids (arugamereri) are called in English and decided to directly translate and call them ‘standers’.

Can the bride and the standers come for a photo.

On the way home, as I was in the middle of being schooled on why my dad cannot sleep at my grandpa’s (father-in-law) land, we were interrupted by a bulletin about another wedding where 5 brothers had all married that same Saturday. I don’t remember what story they gave to justify it, something about saving money, because this news was followed by a even sadder wedding.

In Thika, a bride and her party were getting ready for the special day when armed crooks stormed in the house and started robbing them as they beat them up with machetes. The radio said ‘beating them up with machetes’ so I assumed they were slapping them instead of slicing them. Anyway, they rummage the house, their purses etc for valuables but the bride managed to escape. One of her maids however was not so lucky. She was gang raped. Hold on, we haven’t gotten to the sad part yet. The thugs left and the wedding continued AS PLANNED. The sad part? The raped lady still attended and acted as a maid. WHAT THE FUCK!? How can people be so… urrrrghggh. I was lost for words. She was raped but still acted as a stander at the wedding? I am currently looking for the whole story (heard it on Hot 96) but I bet they did it because of tradition. Probably some bull about how ‘when you pick a date, you have to follow through because everyone is here and you are traditionally not supposed to make the father in law angry. Not when he has paid so much money. He has practically bought you. What? Your friend? She is okay she wasn’t raped raped. These things happens. Tell her to hurry up and come now, we’ll go to the hospital later.’

Gotta love tradition.

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