Joe and Grace’s Wedding – The reception

As the guests were shepherded towards the reception tents, the “bridal team” was whisked away to a photo shoot.  After the photos were all taken, it was back into the limo for the “big arrival” at the reception.As we pulled up to the reception, once again, I could hear screaming, singing, and out of the window I spotted a huge crowd of people waiting at the entrance gate.  “They are waiting to greet the married couple” I was told, and with that Joe and Grace were shoved out of the limo and were swallowed by the singing, manic crowd.  We quickly followed, and once again, I was told to just dance and sing.

So off we danced to the reception area, where more guests were waiting.  Once in the reception area, we took over the dance floor in a bizarre elated dance of arrival, during which we were instructed by the MC to grindl.  My goodness, I don’t have the muscles for grinding!  But boy, do all the old ladies!!  Everyone was raucously shaking their behinds down to the grind, me attempting a pale imitation in order to keep up appearances 🙂  At one point some old ladies seemed to get stuck on the ground, and had to turn to help for a hand in getting up 🙂 But nothing would kill the mood.

Eventually we sat down to eat, during which a number of songs and speeches took place.  The food was scrumptious, however my dress so tight I had little chance of eating much of it!  Then came the cutting of the cake.  Busily chatting away at another table, Gloria, bridesmaid extraordinaire grabbed me, telling me “Quick, we’re supposed to do a jig to the cake!!!”  A jig??  Hardly surprised by this point.

After the cake cutting, we were instructed to take trays of cake and distribute it among the crowd.  I believe I made a very good waiter, somewhat cheekily confirmed by the many guests who shouted “I want the mzungu waitress”, “Hey look, I have a mzungu servant”, “Look, the mzungu is serving me!”  Alright guys, calm down, I’m handing out bits of wedding cake.

Not too much time for munching on cake, as soon it was time for the first dance.  The wedding team (us) was instructed to form a circle around the couple, as they took to the floor for their first dance.  Soon the circle was given up and all of us were dancing once again.  A perfect end to a perfect day.

(And only a few hours to wait until the big party held that evening 😉 …)

Joe and Grace’s Wedding – The ceremony

Arriving at the venue, we were all dancing away in the back of the limo having a real old party.  We parked up in the garden, waiting for everyone to be seated and for the boys to get ready.  Soon it was time to get going.The music struck up, and I was off down the runway, looking for a man who I had never met, who was supposed to meet me somewhere along the way.  We found each other though, and made it to the stage raised above the swimming pool.  By the time all bridesmaids and grooms-men got into position, it was clear we were facing a roasting day.

Soon the bride was walking up the aisle, looking beautiful as anything.  I have to say, I was so so proud to see my two old friends, Joe and Grace, looking so happy together.

After the introductions and greetings had been said, it was announced that “Praise and Worship” would begin.  Now for the Europeans among us – praise and worship is not settling down in your seat for prayers.  No no.  At this point the music struck up, and out walked a praise and worship man, with a microphone, and began dancing around the stage and singing.  The whole gathering started clapping and dancing, and to my – horror – I noticed all the bridal party start very specific dance moves.  Oh dear.  Well, now or never, I set to trying to follow the dance moves… while watching the manic laughter on Tom’s face in the front row of the congregation.  Soon, though, the Congolese man sat next to him and helped him out, and I was the one laughing as Tom twirled and jiggled on the front row.

After praise and worship the ceremony took place – including the pastor telling Joe to lift up the veil and examine whether the right woman had been brought before him (!!)  “Yep, that’s Grace”… that would’ve been a mistake and a half if they got the wrong girl!  Then came the vows… and much to our amusement, halfway through the vows, the minister stopped leading, and said “Joe, you can finish the rest alone”… surprise!  The same with Grace 🙂

Soon though, Joe and Grace were Man and Wife, and the music had struck up again, and we were dancing off the stage to the reception!

Joe and Grace’s Wedding – The bride’s house

After much preparation, the morning of April 21st arrived, and I woke up at 5am to get on a very wet motorbike to Buruburu – to Grace’s house.  After much getting lost, I finally got to Grace’s house, and was led into the kitchen to a huddle of women.  “Gabi, here’s your cup of tea, there are the sausages.  Fill your belly well!”  Grace’s mum told me.  I found myself standing, cup of tea in hand, nibbling sausages, surrounded by ladies in hairnets.

Soon enough the make-up lady arrived, so it was on with the bridesmaid dress and I plonked down in front of the lady.  “Ah yes, they told me there was a white one.. but you’re not so white, it’s fine.”  And she set to work on my face.  When we was done, I was thrust into the seat of the hairdresser, who after about 20 minutes of attempting to curl my hair (good luck), declared that I was finished and she’s just going to spray some oil onto my hair.  “Some what??” “Oil, oil spray – don’t you use it??” “Not usually, no…”  But on went the oil spray, and after all that I found my hair looking much the same as half an hour before, but a good deal stickier.  Anyway, all that is irrelevant, because it was the bride we all wanted to see.

However, as it should be, the bride was going to keep the groom waiting, until she looked just perfect.  In the meantime, I sat stunned, peeping out of the window, while a huge crowd gathered in front of the house, screaming, singing, clapping, and chanting.  Asking what they were all doing, I was told “they’re calling for the bride.”  It was quite something.  Half an hour late for leaving already, the bride was finally ready and all the bridesmaids were summoned to her room.  Suddenly, a lady with a very loud voice started singing… and the bridesmaids united started clapping, dancing, and singing along.  Oh dear.  This, I hadn’t been informed of.  But duty calling, I did my best to join in, despite not having the foggiest about what was going on.  Seeing my confusion, co-maid Gloria came to my rescue – “you haven’t been to a Kamba wedding before have you?” …No.  “We’re singing that the bride is coming, they’re traditional wedding songs.”

We then danced and paraded down the staircase and into the living room, to be met by a big group of singing relatives.  The procession stopped by the front door.  “Now, we have to bargain over the bride”  Gloria whispered.  After much singing, shouting, and arguing through a closed front door.. finally the door was opened and a big suitcase was handed over to the best man.  Colourful cloths were laid over the doorstep and porch, and the bride was escorted from her parents’ house…  once again, to much screaming and singing.  We danced along behind her, and all got into the incredible limousine waiting for us on the street.  The crowd swelled, and screamed, and sang, and we were on our way to the wedding.

What a start.

Coptic Easter

The 14th April marked the day of Coptic Easter.  Having met the wonderful Dr. Jacob, Michael, Isaac and Ramy over here in Kenya – a group of lovely Egyptians – Tom and I found ourselves invited to an Egyptian Easter party.On the evening of the 14th we got ourselves ready in our finest attire (which is not saying much really), and got ourselves over to Dr. Jacob’s house.  We were the first to arrive, everyone else still being at church.  In the kitchen there was the biggest mound of food I’ve ever seen, and the smells tortured us as we sat in the living room, waiting for the other guests 🙂

On TV, a recording of Coptic Easter, where a miracle happens every year – a candle lighting by itself when carried into a religious building by the pope.  Just in the middle of the event, we had a good old Kenyan power-out, plunging us into darkness.

Dr. Jacob, Tom and I sat there for a good half hour, chatting in the dark.  All of a sudden, Egyptians started arriving, greeting us, and bustling around the house – up and down the stairs, in and out of the house.  There was a lot of rapid Arabic!  All of a sudden Dr. Jacob announced “we’re moving the party”… we all hopped into cars, and found ourselves driving round Nairobi looking for an Egyptian household where there was still power.

Eventually we stopped at a block of flats, where there was also no power.  Parking in the car park, we all got out, and talked in quick Arabic.  Tom and I stood there with not much notion of what was happening.  Eventually, feeling so cold, I got back into the car and promptly fell asleep.

I was woken some time later, by Tom laughing at me, telling me that the party is starting.  Getting out of the car, it turned out the carpark flood lights had been turned on, and the party was to be held in a covered corner of the carpark.  It was 11pm already!  However, one problem remained – the car with the food in it appeared to have gone missing.  Dr. Jacob thrust a beer into our hands, and we watched on in anticipation.

“Come over here, come over here” we were directed, “we’re going to play a game”.  Two lines of people queued up facing each other.  The self-appointed MC explained “so, each person has to say something about the other person in the line, for example: this guy is the fat one, this guy is the bald one…and so on – Get it?”  Tom and I didn’t get it.  “Now, everyone turn around to have your backs to each other”.  We did so.  We waited.  “Ok, game over!” … some things really are lost in translation… 🙂

Anyway, the food arrived!  And we were treated to guest treatment as everyone queued up to pile their own masterful piece of cookery onto our food, and watch us taste it.  There was every type of tasty meat, and pasta, and rice… amazing.  Every time we felt we could eat no more, there would be a shout of “You’re not eating, EAT!” and someone would dive at our plates wielding a piece of meat.

It was an amazing cultural (and culinary) experience, and as everyone settled down on the floor to chatter in Arabic, we excused ourselves with many “Happy Easter!”s.

A big Thank You to Dr. Jacob and his friends for hosting us and making us a part of Coptic Easter!