African Wedding   1 comment

Sunday, May 17th, 2009
A Church In West Eldoret

After discussing how I missed riding my bicycle in Kenya, Taxi Max and I came up with a plan to buy a bike together.  I would keep it for the remainder of my stay and he would get it once I left.  After purchasing the bike at Ukwala, we took it to a local bike shop to get it tuned up for 100 KSH.  While the bike was being prepared, we walked through the market to get something to drink.  “Hey,” Max yelled, “there’s my Dad!!”  Sitting in on a high wooden stool in the middle of the square was an imposing old man wearing a brown vested suit and blue turban.  A street vendor was busily shining his black leather shoes.  The man warmly embraced his son who introduced me as his friend the doctor.  “Chris, this is my father Waweru.”  With a high pitched belly laugh, Waweru abandoned his shoe shine and stepped forward to embrace me.  He stared at me for a long while with his one good eye then yelled something to Max in Swahili.  With a surprised smile, Max turned to me and translated that Waweru wanted me to attend his daughter’s wedding this Sunday.  The offer was too good to pass up.

Sunday morning found me working in the hospital and I didn’t get away until noon, several hours after the wedding had started.  I was picked up by a car carrying Max’s girlfriend and children.  “Max isn’t coming,” she said.  “He got a job driving some Dutch tourists to Boringo.”  There went my safety net.  I was going to be the only Mizungu at the wedding and not know anyone but Waweru who I had just met.  We arrived at the church to find services still going on.  The final hour of the 5 hour service was clearly taking it’s toll on the bride and groom who looked about ready to pass out.  With an eruption of drums and loud singing, the wedding was over and the celebration began.  Everyone, young and old, leapt to their feet and danced and jumped around the new couple.  They hoisted them up on their shoulders and carried them to the party tent that had been erected just outside the church.  Waweru found me and nearly squeezed the life out of me as he laughed and jumped.  “You came!” he exclaimed in rough English.  He assigned a man named Timothy to introduce me to the family and guests.

Timothy found me a plate of food (rice and beans) and a Fanta and told me to stand by a flower arrangement.  After eating a bit, I looked up and realized that he had made me stand directly in front of the head table!  “Timothy, can I sit somewhere out of the way?”.  He took me by the elbow and sat me behind the bride and groom in the middle of the groomsmen and bridesmaids the oldest of which was at most 12 years old.  30 little eyes were fixed on me trying to figure out who this guy was sitting with them.  One boy sitting next to me was particularly fascinated with my camera.  I showed him how to use it and after a few practice shots, sent him around the wedding to take some candid shots for me.  He did a wonderful job! (The bottom row of pictures are his.)

It came time for me to present my gift to the couple so I joined the line of guests with presents.  The MC spotted me and called me forward.  “Our mizungu doctor friend has joined us from…?”  “Indiana,” I said.  “Ingreeamdah!” he exclaimed.  Close enough.  As I handed my gift over to the bride (who had no clue who I was) a microphone was pushed in front of me.  “I want to congratulate you on a beautiful wedding and wish you a bright future together!”  They clearly wanted me to say more but leaving well enough alone, I handed back the mic and slipped into the crowd.  Max’s girlfriend found me and said it was time to go.  We climbed in the car and headed back to Eldoret.  Weddings in Kenya can last well into the early hours of the morning.  I’ll have to imagine what went on.



Posted May 21, 2009 by chrislux in Travel

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One response to “African Wedding

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  1. Oh, it sounds (and looks) like it was a beautiful wedding! And you\’re right, the kid\’s got talent. Nice shot of you downing the Fanta, by the way. 😉

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