Through our eyes

As we mentioned in the Update this week, we attended a fundraiser for Rosemary’s send off party.  Rosemary is the sustainability coordinator for BCC.  We work with her nearly every day on the social businesses, microcredit lending program, and grant writing.  She will be married in mid December.  The tradition in Tanzania is that the groom fundraises for the wedding, while the bride and her family fundraise for the send off.

In Tanzanian tradition, the woman leaves her family and becomes part of the man’s family.  The man is responsible to pay the dowry, support the wife, and pay for the wedding ceremony and celebration.  Because the woman leaves her family and becomes part of a new family, a tradition was developed for the woman’s family to host a party commemorating the bride’s marriage, honoring her old family, and celebrating her new family.  At the end of the party the bride will leave her family and live with a family representative from the groom’s family during the two days before the wedding.  The party is called a send off, and the bride is responsible for fundraising for the event.

We are not entirely sure about why Tanzanians fundraise for their weddings, as opposed to saving and paying for the celebrations themselves, but we do have a theory.  The burden of debt is not like it is in western societies.  Family, friends, and neighbors all share the burden, not through taxation, but through lending money to individuals in times when money is needed.  It is not uncommon for people to both owe many people money and be owed money.  Initially, this phenomenon may seem odd to westerners; however, in a country with few social welfare systems, it is not that surprising — and actually very inspiring — that the community would create a system of their own.

Weddings and send off celebrations are extravagant, beautiful celebrations.  Because friends and family members of the bride and groom share the burden of the celebration cost, as friends of Rosemary’s, we were expected to attend her send off fundraiser.  This event consists of friends and family members gathering and publically committing to donate a certain amount towards the wedding.  This can be done by saying they will pay for an item, such as the cake, or publically committing an amount of money towards the party to be used in a way that the send off committee sees fit.

You can see from the photos below that this was truly a serious business meeting!

After people announced their donation amounts, a committee was formed to make the decisions for the send off celebration.  People wanted us on the committee because everyone in attendance was expected to participate.  We will miss the next meeting because we will be on safari, but we know that we will be able to attend more events for this send off celebration.  It will be a learning experience!

Overall, it was a great experience.  We are excited to attend Rosemary’s send off and her wedding!  They should be fun and entertaining, as well as unforgettable cultural experiences!

Finally, Happy Early Birthday to Melissa’s mom!  Her birthday is tomorrow and we wish her a wonderful day!

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