Grace and Martin’s Wedding
In Tanzania the wedding process is both different and the same from the customs I know. The difference is the groom’s family hosts the wedding. The same is that there is a ceremony and a celebration.
In the short time that I have been in Dar es Salaam I have discovered that many religions are active – very active. It would appear that missionaries from many religions have had an impact in the last couple of centuries on Tanzania. Some of the most prevalent are Islam, Christianity: (Catholic, Lutheran, Jehovah Witness, Protestant,) Judaism and many more. In addition, the indigenous tribal customs are very active. The Send Off comes from the tribal history. This wedding ceremony and celebration was a combination of many traditions.
It began with the religious ceremony at 2 pm. Martin, Grace and Todo are members of the Jehovah Witnesses. The religious ceremony took place in a very modern beautifully designed church on a large Jehovah Witnesses campus in Dar es Salaam. Obviously I did not take pictures during the ceremony which mostly focussed on a beautiful sermon from one of the leaders which was followed by the vows. These are a few pictures following the ceremony.
Of course, there were many more photos but……………… Now, the departure
The rest of us loaded into cars and headed across town to the reception. The drive, about an hour, was new for me. We went along a road – yes, with bumps but not many holes – that ran adjacent to the Indian Ocean – so blue and tranquil. We arrived early. I sat at a table with a very interesting couple, the wife is Todo’s oldest friend. She is a skilled technician analyzing blood. We had lots to talk about.
Then, the celebrations began with the arrival of the bride and groom. You are going to note that there is a color theme: Green. Many guests wore green, the bridesmaids were in green, the families were in green. I wasn’t, I didn’t bring any – didn’t seem to matter!
As the bridal party gathered they prepared to make their entrance. First to appear were the bridemaids.
To my surprise this was a different set of bridesmaids. It seems at the Send Off the bridesmaids were family members. The bridesmaids at the wedding are friends from the bride’s professional life. Grace works for UNICEF which has a significant presence in Dar. Note their entrance and of those that followed. They were doing the slow rythmic pattern (to music) that was a characteristic of the Send Off.
Then the bride and groom joined us, dancing their way in.
The man, Mbezi, leading Martin and Grace is the first grandchild of Todo and Rube’s mother.
Martin’s grandmother, Paulyna, comes next.
Paulyna is given the tribal cloth to put on before she greets the bride and groom.
Then, she spontaneously launched into a tribal dance. This woman’s spirit is so strong. It was amazing to watch.
Of course, the guests numbering 150 or so want to greet the weedking couple after which Pere speaking on behalf of the groom’s family welcomes the guests.
Now it’s time for the groom’s family women to make an entrance.
Special entertainment had been organized. The preacher at the wedding service earlier in the afternoon had written lyrics celebrating Martin and Grace to a popular song, Hakuna Matala, often heard in Tanzania. The title means all is well, there are no problems. I learned later that this song is a very old one, perhaps more than a century. It originates in Kenya and was made famous because it was sung in the Lion King. We learned the chorus and joined in.
Some of the women from the groom’s family make sing a poem welcoming Grace to the family.
And, so this unique (to me) celebration continued. A full dinner was served and there was much dancing.
And, yes, I joined them!
A young son of Martin’s cousin, Rivego, decided he liked dancing with me. We had some good laughs.
Just as the evening was about to conclude, a tribal custom was introduced. Martin was presented with a white robe. Receiving this (which only can happen once a man is married in the Haya Tribe) it signifies he is now eligible to be a part of the deliberations of his tribe. Grace was presented with two swaths of beautiful fabric which, I am told, is for assisting with managing many aspects of the house hold, including carrying children if and when they should come.