This past weekend I attended my friend Patrick’s traditional introduction ceremony in a village near Iganga. Patrick was one of the few IJM Kampala people with whom I worked closely. Engagement and weddings in Uganda are very culturally important and prevalent and most couples, even if they have a modern “church”-type of wedding, still engage in traditional practices and rituals that take place at the bride’s family home in her village before the wedding. The kwangula is the official time when the bride introduces her groom to her family and her family accepts him in. It was a really fun (and long!) day. Patrick is Baganda and Irene (the bride) is Basoga so we sang both anthems and engaged both tribes’ traditions/heritage. Uganda is the most ethnically diverse country in the world and even neighboring tribes have very distinct pride in their respective cultures. As I was part of the groom’s side, we arrived and were pinned with flowers, marking us as the visitors. There were about 70 of us, and it still took almost a half hour to unload the whole truck of gifts after the ceremony had concluded! We all filed in carrying everything from sugar to solar panels — the women carrying items on our heads. The goat however stayed tied outside the gate because “goats are naked and don’t have manners,” said one of the guys helping unload gifts. AKA no guarantees the goat wouldn’t poop inside the party.
My favorite part was definitely the food–although my kikoy (fabric/skirt tied under the gomesi) was tied so tightly that eating a large meal made it a bit difficult to breathe. We ate so much delicious food, including pumpkin, matoke, chicken, and irish (potatoes). Here is a three part blog series detailing the entire process if you’d like to learn more (long read but very interesting). Here is a picture of me in my gomesi! This is on the porch of the hotel in Iganga town where we all got ready before driving to the village. The experience of cramming way too many women into one room to get ready is ubiquitous. 🙂