Living in a foreign country is an education in itself. We were invited by our friend Charles, (the one on the left above), to attend the "Introduction Ceremony" for his sister. The introduction is to bring together her family and her fiance's family for the first time. In this case (which is not unusual in this country), she and her fiance' have been living together for a number of years and have a few children. Anyway, we were interested to see how the tradition played out. We were there about noon, thinking that we were a little early and all would get under way any time... but we learned another lesson in patience waiting for the ceremony.
After Charles greeted us and sat us in a nice shady spot we were then greeted by these two little fellows. The littlest was not too sure he wanted to get by us but soon warmed and while we waited, and waited he climbed on my lap and fell asleep. His father soon came and retrieved him, not knowing that it was perfectly ok by me to have the little guy there.
The guests kept filling in the seats around us and under the other canopies. It was really a big to-do. The family had rented four big tent canopies with all the chairs, had a big sound system and many other decorations. We were thinking how simple it would have been to just bring the guy over to the family and introduce him and save thousands of shillings.
The ladies next to us had traveled from Kampala to attend and so we told them this was our first introduction and would love their guidance about what to expect. The ladies in the crowd were all wearing their traditional gomez dresses, beautiful and colorful; while many of the men wore their formal long shirts and suit coats.
After awhile a big truck drove into the compound loaded with the cattle and goats which constituted the 'bride price' the fiance' pays to the bride's family (probably the reason it took so long for the introduction in the first place). Then the fiance with his family arrived all decked out in their best.
They waited at the arch for some time until they were greeted and given flowers or ribbons to wear. Then together with some of the bride's family they cut the ribbon in the arch and entered bearing more gifts in bags such the one below.
The poor fiance spent a good deal of the time on his knees begging for them to send out his bride.
But instead they sent out the mother, grandmother, aunts, uncles, sisters and brothers expecting from him gifts and trinkets.
The sisters of the bride-to-be received sunglasses from him, the brothers each were given an apple the rest received similar gifts.
But they were unrelenting in bringing forth his soon-to-be bride.
It was all very interesting but seemed to be dragging on and on so we entertained ourselves by watching the babies, children and people around us. One of the out buildings on the property caught my eye as I thought of our artist, daughter. She would have been taking pictures of it for sure, so we did!!
The funny part about the whole experience was...we never did see the future bride because we had to leave to attend a baptismal service.
You would think after four and a half hours the ceremony would have reached a conclusion.
Not this time....