Wednesday, January 19

Here Comes The Bride

"The Donald" is getting married this weekend, and this reminded me of Zambian weddings.

Typically, men and women do not "date." Instead of courting, the couple might meet at a soccer match, or see each other at school or the market. Their intentions are often secret. Sometimes, the couple meets in a maize field, which can lead to all sorts of, uh, problems.

When he decides to propose, he asks a "go-between" to announce his intentions. Her family decides if the marriage will occur. If her family approves, the couple marries pending payment of lobola, or bride-price. (The lobola has dropped lately, as many Zambians have become poorer. What used to be several cattle is now often a single scrawny cow.) If the couple elopes, the groom leaves a chicken on the bride's family's doorstep, as a down-payment: he is still expected to pay the lobola. If, for some reason, the groom fails to pay the lobola, the bride's family may sue him in court.

The bride has a "kitchen party," which is similar to a bridal shower. The groom drinks beer.

In most ways, a Zambian wedding is similar to a Western wedding: friends and faimily gather; there is singing, dancing, and a reception. An interesting difference is that the bride typically enters the ceremony with her head covered. Upon reaching the groom, she lifts the veil, revealing her beauty.

Considering how poor many Zambians are, "honeymoons" are often out of the question. Instead, the new couple usually stays in a neighbor's house for the night.