Tanzanian Wedding Series

Part 1

A few months ago, we talked about attending a Send Off fundraiser for our friend and co-worker Rosemary. At this event, friends and family pledged money for Rosemary’s Send Off party, which was held Thursday, December 15. We attended the party and finally understand the idea of a Tanzanian Send Off! We had a great time at the party and took many photos! We will walk you through the event via photos so that you too can understand this cultural event.

Culturally, in Tanzania, it is normal for the groom’s family to pay a dowry for the bride. The woman represents a worker for fields and wealth in the family, so in order to compensate for the loss, the groom’s family must pay the bride’s family a negotiated price. In Rosemary’s instance, several cows, goats, blankets, and other items were paid to her family prior to the marriage arrangement. Weddings are seen as a very important event in Tanzania, so they are lavish affairs. The Send Off we attended was one example of this.

The party was scheduled for 6:00 pm, but didn’t start until 8:00 pm. We are finally beginning to understand Tanzanian time so we showed up at about 7:15. We were still there fairly early, but we didn’t have to wait too long for the party to start. Below you will find a photo of us in our crazy Tanzanian outfits we had made for us! Genevieve’s (our co-worker) children said that John had the best suit coat at the party!

The party started with several members of Rosemary’s bridal party dancing into the room filled with over 200 of Rosemary’s friends and family members. The youngest girl is Genevieve’s daughter. She was quite the dancer; she confidently led the group

After the bridal party and several friends danced into the room, Rosemary (pictured below) and her maid of honor entered! Rosemary’s maid of honor was with her all night as her groom hid in the crowd. This was Rosemary’s night to say goodbye to her family and get ready to enter her groom’s family. She informed us many times before this evening that she would spend the night with her friends! She did just that!

Rosemary and her maid of honor danced into the room and walked up to their table at the head of the room. They had beautiful white chairs and probably felt like queens for the night!

The M.C. wasted no time. After some introductions, he dove right into the cake cutting ceremony. Rosemary’s relative cut the cake, the maid of honor fed Rosemary a piece of cake, and then Rosemary gave a cake to her family and her groom’s family. We can vouch that the cake was very good!

After the cake, in came the goat! At any major event in Tanzania, a goat is usually killed and roasted whole. It is then presented to the guest of honor. In this case, that was Rosemary. The chef danced as he wheeled in the goat. Rosemary seemed very pleased as she took the first bite! Again, she gave each of her family members, and each of the groom’s family members a bite of the goat.

Except for Melissa and Nancy (John’s mom is Melissa’s fellow vegetarian), everyone tried the goat during dinner! Before dinner, the wedding party enjoyed champagne and then everyone enjoyed the feast of rice, goat, chicken, vegetable dishes, fruit, and cake.

One of the interesting games that they played during the Send off was when Rosemary had to find her future husband. He was hiding in the crowd prior to this time so she had to wander around and look for him. A few men stood up and acted as if they were the groom, but luckily she found Ebenezer, her real future husband. They ate dinner together and then Ebenezer went back to sit with his best man for the remainder of the party.

After dinner, everyone (including us) danced to the front of the room to give Rosemary their gifts. The fun really started when Rosemary’s mom brought in a basket and all of Rosemary’s close friends and family members followed her with kitchen utensils. At this point, we realized that the Send Off is similar to a very fancy bridal shower where men are also invited. Rosemary got everything from pots, to an outside cooker, to Tupperware. We think that their kitchen will be full of supplies!

The kitchen items parade was followed by a dancing line of women carrying kongas. As mentioned in our blogs several months ago, kongas are worn by most women in Tanzania. They are sort of like an apron in western nations, but they are also used for fashion. The most important part of each konga is the message. Most Tanzanians purchase the kongas for the message as opposed to purchasing them because they like the fabric. Either way, Rosemary now has many kongas!

The Send Off continued with a few remarks from the Send Off Committee that helped arrange the event, and ended with her walking out of the building and disappearing. As we understand it, she was whisked away to stay with the sister of the groom until the wedding.

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