Monday, May 28, 2012

Daudi's Wedding

Daudi & Diana at the Church Door

Through the Arch
Weddings everywhere are great fun but to really enjoy them in their full extravagance, one needs to be in Uganda.  This I have known for a long while but it somehow slipped off my radar over the years  It has taken the wild exuberance of a Ugandan wedding to remind me.   
The best weddings include people you know and people you are getting to know; massive meals in the village and drumming into all hours of the night.  When you attempt to reproduce local dances, you are met with great delight and bills are pressed onto your forehead and tucked into your pocket.  You end up dancing until you are ready to fall and then you get up again as the cascading rhythms of overlapping drums urge you on.  
Weddings  capture the social capital of Africa at work.  The organization of a wedding takes a whole slew of friends and family, relatives and neighbours --- raising money, holding events, organizing and meeting over a long period.  It is like a huge insurance scheme with tentacles throughout society drawing everyone  together.  
I was in Uganda for a wedding of one of our project staff and caught the tail end of the hubbub and excitement.  Weddings in Uganda are not a matter of figuring out how many guests you can afford, or who you can invite.  Even though the bride and groom did not know I would be in the country at the time of their wedding, my being there is greeted as a wonderful omen.  Of course, I am invited.  Of course, I will come.  You would think my attendance was a blessing for them.  You can't beat hospitality like that.  

Hot Pink Mammas
My favourite, all time part of this wedding is the bridesmaids in strapless, ,hot pink satin sheaths, their royal blue shoes and accessories, barely keeping up with them.  The bridesmaids lead in the bridal party, shimmying and shaking down the path, around the multiple cakes, through the bubble machine as they weave in and around the flowers. 
They are boggying, non-stop-- a shimmering extravaganza of Hot Mammas, shaking their booties on spike heels as they navigate through the grass to the music, laughing and talking, stopping and starting, everything moving.  Setting the tempo, having such a good time, they have us all laughing, enjoying being so fully in their bodies.  I am appreciating them even more post total hip replacement as they remind me of the sheer joy of moving freely.
Everybody Boggies
There are a couple of MCs and a singer who entertains us while everyone is being fed and soon they too are boggying.  Fireworks are set off on the tiers of cake arrayed in the middle of the compound.  Families  and employers make presentations; speeches are made; guests are acknowledged and still more people arrive as dusk settles over us.  
A whole troop of flower girls are watched over by family.  Soft drinks and water are provided.  Canopies are shifted to provide shade.  People all over the grounds chat and greet. 
Flower Girls

Daudi/ David, a graduate from the IT program at the university is the head of the cell phone project.  He has trained volunteer health workers (VHW) in use of cell phones as part of iCCM (Intergrated Community Case Management).  The designated VHW who has been trained in providing drugs for a number of specific conditions is contacted by other VHWs in his/her parish when anyone is identified as needing drugs.  David has managed in a very short time to ensure the VHWs and their supervisors at the health centers are comfortable online, able to track and keep records and function effectively despite being from in a rural, remote area.  It has truly been a wonder to behold the program roll out and clear that David is a rather special person combining the necessary technical and people skills.
Family Procession

Kids Play with Bubbles
But back to the wedding, the local church ceremony is also quite elaborate, with a full choir gowned in red surplices, a procesion of the congregation to the front to acknowledge the couple, stained glass windows sparkling with sunlight,  pews packed with celebrants and everyone singing during the couple's walk down the aisle.  I have come with a friend and am glad to join the Dean and his wife to watch it all unfold.  Relatives ask to pose with me.  It seems everyone is taking pictures and most of my shots seems to include a picture of someone taking a picture! 
After a satisfying meal we are once again on the outside as still more hordes of people move through the serving lines to be fed.  Many of our project staff are assisting as well as students I hadn't seen for a while.  
An elaborate carpet leads the couple back into the garden setting followed by family members from both sides as everyone is acknowledged and appreciated.    As the guests  settle back to enjoy and digest,  youngsters enchanted by the bubbles keep up the dance.


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