Straight from the Field Notes: a Zanzibari Wedding

[The intenet isn’t letting me post a song from YouTube. So, for ambiance, please look up “Cigarettes, Wedding Bands” for my by Band of Horses on YouTube as you read this post. Please, thank-you, and you’re welcome.]

The first night we were here, Mama Shadya’s sister got married, and we were invited to the wedding.  Mama shadya wore heels, gold leggings, a black velvet dress with a train that was super bedazzled, and a headdress of gold coins. The wedding was in a large room in a building near cargo containers. We got to the door and had to give our invitations to show that we were indeed invited. The room was packed, and I’m surprised mama shadya even had the two extra invitations to give to us. We were given a goody bag as we walked through the door by two girls of the same height who were wearing matching black and gold outfits.  Mama Shadya quickly talked to the members of a table relatively close to the door, and the members of the table indicated that Jaclyn and I were to sit in the only two seats left at their table. There was a platter of cashews mixed with some sort of chips on our table that had been thoroughly picked over by the time we sat down, as well as two bottles of water covered in gold paper, a box of apple juice, and a box of mango juice.  The same was on every table.   



my roommate as we sat at our table

The population of the room was comprised entirely of women, and every single woman in there was dressed to the nines. I personally have not seen that much sparkle and bedazzlement on that many outfits in one place in my life. There was a band playing, which comprised of the only men in the room, and they were playing and singing very Arabic music.  Every so often, a group of women would decide they like a song and go up to “dance”- that is, step in place in time to the music, or if they were feeling really crazy, step from side to side.  They would always take their clutch purses up with them, and often they would take out a 500 shilling note and just kinda hold it and wave it around as they stepped in place.  We were served sandwiches with cucumber, pepper, and goat.   


first real food I had seen all day

Then, the bride came out, proceeded by the two girls who gave us our goody bags, looking like a cross between Cinderella and a disco ball. Her dress was a strapless ballgown with small crystals all over the skirt and very large crystals on the fitted bodice, and she wore a plain white long-sleeve shirt underneath the dress. Her head was covered by a white and orange headcovering and a veil, and instead of flowers she held three balls covered in crystals that were hanging from each other. She walked towards the stage where there was white and orange fabric hanging and two white thrones, and when she was almost there, her mom threw money over her. On stage, she just stood there for a very long time as a photographer took hundreds of pictures of her. The groom then entered, on the arm of someone who I guessed to be either another wife or a sister and stood up with his new bride as hundreds of more pictures were taken.  Then, every single guest went up with the bride and group two by two to have their picture taken by the bride and groom.


taking a picture with the bride and groom


Meanwhile, we were served ice cream in a cup, and later all given a cardboard box that looked like a gingerbread house that had various food in it, including a roasted chicken leg. The guests left as they had their pictures taken and the music continued, and finally at around midnight Mama Shadya came up to us and told us that her brother was going to take us home, and that she would come home an hour or so later, and we left.


yeah…don’t know what to do with some of the stuff that’s in there…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s