Children are loved, but they are not invited is a famous statement that you will come across on many wedding or traditional ceremony invitations in Tanzania. I have for a long time reserved my comments about weddings and other marriage ceremonies and the expectations they come with. Over the holidays, i learn’t about how our neighbours in Tanzania do it and i can only say i wish we could copy the right things for the first time especially when it comes to functions and ceremonies.
An average Ugandan is in atleast 5 wedding whatsapp groups which will likley happen in the same month and the expectation is to contribute generously to all, but you’re invited to none. I have seen how people we haven’t met in 6 years add us to whatsapp groups with a welcome note. Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s welcome Dr. Violah my longtime friend who is here to offer us support towards this event. First of all, this introduction biases the group. Now after calling me by my title, i’m expected to give you 200,000 UGX. Can’t we just have small intimate events with interested people? our family and close friends who we don’t have to hunt down to clear pledges?
Welcome to Uganda, a place where someone plans a wedding of 100 million and the only thing they have covered are hankies and eggplants. And even when people have contributed large sums of money and the events happen, they return to the same muzigo and can’t even afford a descent life. I’m shaking this table today. I have been to Tanzania several times and seen how the people in Dar-es-salaam, dodoma, Arusha and other towns live. I will say that i started off by judging the chaps in Dar for loving their life so much. I was wrong. These guys are rational. Even when they drive the latest cars, but will stay in the same rental forever and probably never construct their own house, these guys have some things right. They live within their means.
In Tanzania, when you set out to marry your bride and present a budget for your wedding, you are expected to have about 30% of the budget money ready in cash. The committee must see that money before they start collecting more money. Remember, things to do with the outfits and hair are assumed to have been covered by the couple even before they present their budget. That’s to say, you will present 30% of the budget plus money to cater for the outfits of the entire entourage, makeup and hair. If you choose suits that cost millions, you must know how to afford them before asking for support.
When we set out to do bridal showers here, we completely lost and diluted the value for this party. Lately bridal showers are only about changing outfits 5 times, and a boat cruise, and taking pictures. The tanzania version is something called a Kitchen party. At the kitchen party, only females attend and the intention of this party is to bring gifts that would be useful for when someone starts a home. things ranging from laundry items, saucepans, bedsheets, kitchenware and ofcourse advise and experiences shared by married people. Even when something is changing about these kitchen parties today with a loud modern touch, this would be a good thing to copy if you ask me .
Men have their version of this party in TZ. They have a Bag party which is attended by only men. At this party, men contribute towards the home of their fellow man. They contribute things like a “fire source” and you willl receive things like an oven, they give house equipment like washing machines, fridges, furniture, e.t.c. The goal is to have their fellow man have a starting point. At this party, the man declares how they will settle once the honey moon is over. He has to declare if he has a home or will move into an appartment or rental. Either way, he has to have a plan for it. If you plan on moving into a rental house, but don’t have several months of rent covered, then some of these gifts will be liquidated to cover that expense because you have to take your bride to a comfortable home. Now i like these guys. Because aside from the parties our men here in Uganda throw and drink beer whose worth is a plot of land in one night but later send the groom to paying debts after the wedding, these guys are rational.
You must have seen our Ugandan guests. Where you invite one person and they should up in a family car. father, mother, their 3 children, niece, house maid and the gift they brought for this couple is just half a dozen of glasses. First of all, these guys are very serious when it comes to invitations. A single invitation is a single invitation. You will find a rollcall sheet at the entrance. If your name isn’t on the list, please go back home. If you carried kids who weren’t invited, you either take them back home, or leave them in the car with the maid. Just so you know, their invitations are like tickets to a concert. You literally buy your invitation card. The fee is quite fixed. You could pay more if you want, but if you pay less than the fee of the invitation card, that is considered a kind donation. You don’t get invited. If you paid for a couple invitation card, you better arrive at the event together, or one of you will be running up and down to make clearences at the entrance. These guys don’t play.
I see here at our tradition ceremonies where the guy’s family shows up with an entourage of 100 guests. How? In TZ when they invite 20 guests from the groom’s home, and for some reason the groom’s home has 1 or more extra guests to bring, they have to communicate atleast 2 days prior to the function, and they have to pay a fine towards the meals that these extra people will be consuming because they are just not in the budget.
Last year i made contributions to events till i just decided i wouldn’t do it anymore because i was tired. I know many other bitter people too. We love you, we wish you a happy marriage, but we won’t break our budgets to fund a fairtale. Happy marriages to everyone getting married in 2022.