Published: June 25th 2010June 20th 2010
Some traditional headdresses displayed in the Ugandan Museum
So I woke up feeling fine in the morning. It was really the first night where I felt that I got some sleep. I then got ready to meet up with the group to go to the invitation. There was about 8 of us in our group and we first headed out to the Uganda Museum to learn a bit more about the Ugandan culture. It was a bit interesting to see the different instruments and tools that they have and used but I didn’t learn as much about the culture as I had expected.
From there Hector said that we could only take 5 of us to the introduction so Katrina and Joanna decided to just head to the city center to go shopping. It was then just Thanasis (Greece), Lucy (China), Limbing (China), Iva (China), and I that would go to the invitation. We were running late so we grabbed some fast food which was samosas and chiappatis (like a salty crepe). We waited until we were a taxi and seated before eating since it is a bit of a taboo to eat while standing or walking in Uganda. In order to get to the invitation we had
the two others were missing sport coats.
to take two different collective taxis before getting off along the road, walk down a small bath next to a furniture store and then hopping on a boda boda (motorcycle taxi). We finally arrived and realized that we were not dressed well enough for the event. Regardless the family assured us that we were still welcome and they were happy to have us attend the event. Hector brought some extra clothes but Iva and I were left in just our t-shirts and jeans. I’m not quite sure what the name of the attire that the guys wore but it basically a long shirt that goes down past the knees with a cut around the neck with a sports coat over it. All of the women had the same style dress but in different colorful fabrics.
The purpose of this ceremony is as it sounds. It is an introduction. It’s the moment when the two families of the people getting married get introduced. It is traditional to have it at the soon-to-be bride’s house and then the soon-to-be-groom’s family and friends come and bring a dowry. First the groom enters and is asked multiple questions about the bride’s culture. If
Dress for the Invitation
Lucy was able to borrow a dress from Hector's sister.
he does not answer enough of them correct then the wedding will be called off. I sat under a large tent with our small group and Hector’s family. I sat next to Hector’s dad who did a few translations for me which was nice since the entire ceremony was in Lugandan. There was a photographer going around and taking pictures of everyone at the party. I felt a bit awkward about that because I wasn’t dressed appropriately for the event and when the family gets their photos they’ll probably be a bit confused as to who I am and what I was doing there. I was a bit relieved when I saw that afterwards the photographer would find you and then sell you your prints if you wanted them.
The ceremony lasted for about 5 hours and it wasn’t until about 3 hours in that we finally saw the bride. The only way to distinguish her from the rest of the girls was that she had a small gold hairpiece. Other than that the bride just wore the same types of clothes as everyone else. After a long time of questioning the groom finally answered all of the
The soon-to-be-groom waits under the archway to proceed into the ceremony with his family and friends.
questions and the dowry was brought out. The groom’s friends and families carried many baskets on their head with various foods such as tomatoes and lettuce. After about 20 baskets were carried we soon saw a sofa and a love seat carried over to the bride. Then we saw a TV and a cow’s leg. Apparently the family was given a cow but they the groomsmen didn’t bring it so they brought a leg to represent the animal (I think that’s what they told me). After that the grooms friends and family handed out sodas to everyone. It was traditional to bring a barrel of the local banana beer however since this was a Christian community they changed it to soft drinks. After a bit more time (not sure what happened with the ceremony) we finally got to eat!
The food was similar to the typical foods that I had seen, a bit of plantain, some rice, sweet potato, and very dry meat. I never understood how the meet was so dry because it was always served in a soup. The rice was seasoned though so it was very good and this time we also had “Irish” potatoes, which
Bringing in the gifts
These were baskets full of food
were also nice. Unfortunately since the place was so crowded we could only sit in our chairs and eat. They also ran out of silverware so all of us had to resort to eating with our hands. Hector said that many of the locals prefer eating with their hands because it makes the food taste better. I knew where eating like that was going to end up. I accepted that fact that I would probably spent the next day with the toilet. There wasn’t much else I could do though. I was hungry and surrounded by hundreds of people who were eating with their hands. Luckily Lucy had brought some hand sanitizer, which was my only line of defense. After food it was finally time to leave. We had arrived around 1pm and started to leave around 7pm. I had to go to the bathroom so I left to group to go and find it. I soon discovered the downside of being a foreigner. Often people come up and want to talk to you to find out where you are from. I found the bathroom but someone was in it so I had to wait outside. While waiting, one of
the family members from the party started talking to me. As she was talking to me the bathroom became free but I didn’t want to be rude and leave the conversation. As the person continued to talk to me the bathroom soon became occupied again. Then someone else came up to me and started talking. I gave up on going to the bathroom and tried to find my group to leave.
We headed back to Hector’s family’s house, which was a short walk from the introduction, so that the others could get changed out of their formal attire. One thing I never thought to bring that would be useful is a flashlight. The electricity was out so it was very dark and only one of us brought a flashlight. We entered Hector’s house, which was dimly lit by an oil lamp so it was hard to see. It looked very modest though with just plain concrete walls and a tin roof. After everyone changed we headed out to go back to the hostel. There weren’t many boda bodas around so we had to walk for about 20 minutes to find an area where we could get a collective taxi.
On our walk we passed by many locals and realized that we were the only ones using a flashlight when we walked. Everyone else looked like they were able to navigate through the dark without a problem.
We kept walking soon found an area that looked like a night street market. The road was closely lined with little stalls lit by candles. There was no electricity so the area only had some dim lighting but was packed with people. There wasn’t much room to walk either because there was only a small dirt path in between the stalls and the road. Most of the light came from the headlights of cars passing by, which would come very close to hitting you. Somehow a couple of the people in our group were hungry so we went up to one of the street vendors and bought a rolex, which is fried egg with tomato and onion wrapped in a chapatti which is quite filling and only costs about 800 shillings. I didn’t have one because I was still full from dinner and I figured what’s the point in eating if I was going to be sick from the dinner anyways. That
night we just took a taxi home.
When I got back to the hostel at least one of my problems was solved. I was supposed to be moving into a new room which they said wasn't ready yet which I thought was strange. All you really need to do is chuck a wooden bed frame into the room and throw a mattress on top. there was a room full of unused bed frames as well. It didn't matter much because when I arrived I saw that all of Martin's stuff was gone. I had the room to myself. Martin decided that he wanted to move to a new room that was closer to the bathroom. I don't really mind. It's nice having a room to myself.
There was still no word about when I would start working which seemed to be an ongoing theme. Many of the other interns told me that it took them two weeks before they started on their projects so we’ll see what happens. Everyone is telling me that “this is Africa” and “nothing goes according to plan”. To me it feels like nothing goes. It's doesn't go according to plan it just doesn't
Eating with Hands
You know it's not a good idea but you do it anyways