>> The one with Lau's Kwanjula
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The journey there
It was a bit of a shock when I was informed that Lau was doing Kwanjula on Saturday. Kwanjula it turns out is the ceremony that is performed when the man goes the woman's home to ask for her hand in marriage – basically an engagement ceremony. I never got any message from that hoax Lau that he was getting engaged so you can imagine the shock when Silvia his sis tells me to head there for his Kwanjula.
Tickets were booked and we were set to head off to Uganda . Departure night was not ideal. The bus was allegedly leaving at 8:30pm (it left at 9:15pm) so I sat in the Wine Bar watching the first half of the African Nations Cup between Ivory Coast and Egypt. Honestly, I shouldn't have bothered. That first half was the most boring bit of football since that travesty that was the USA 94 cup final between Italy and Brazil . It was so boring I picked up a conversation with the dude next to me. Turns out the fellow had lived in KLA (thats Kampala !) for quite some time. He then explained to me that as a fellow attending Kwanjula, I needed to have a Kanzu. Ahemm...Where is a brother to get such an item at this late hour?
I made it to the bus a few beers to the good and listened to the penalty shoot out between Ivory Coast and Egypt in the second half of that horrible match. Finally, we left Nairobi with the wedding crew... Silvia, carol, Shelly, martin and his significant other, Rebecca and Lau's dad.
A short note from this beautiful night as we whizzed cross country towards our destination... Can this government fix those roads for crying out loud! From Naivasha to Nakuru to Kisumu is a travesty! The pain of the bone jarring ride is not a plot!
Finally arriving at the border where we filling in some slips and some very unfriendly government officials as per kawa. However, the culture shock started however as soon as we had crossed the boarder to have our passports stamped by the Ugandan officials. These dudes and dudettes were smiling with us. They had nice neat uniforms. They had PCS for crying out loud! More shock was in store for me but I was already getting overwhelmed.
The first thing I noticed as soon as I crossed the boarder was that my Celtel line was dead. So much for the East African Community. The pals on this side of the boarder were less aggressive. The pace noticeably slowed down till we got to Kampala .
Kampala is not exactly the biggest city in the world, but it has character! You need to be on the look out for the boda boda, motorcycle transporters who whiz through the city with no regard for life and limb (their passengers, their own or yours). Another shocking thing for me to see was watchies (read private security guards) carrying live fire arms. We are talking about AK47's, sawn off shotguns, G3's et al. Note to self: never piss of a watchie, whatever the reason.
I had a taste of chaps a delicious meat snack. Yum. Unfortunately, I had not seen hide nor hair of that delicious meal that is KLAs famous chicken on a stick.
Off we went to Lau's to prepare for Kwanjula. We spent quite a period of time before heading to the event late as usual (bloody Kenyans!).
Ceremony is taken very seriously in Uganda . The Kwanjula is a very unique experience. Fortunately for us, Lau's bride-to-be was not a Muganda but a munyankole (if I am wrong Lau don't be mad... just gimme the right tribe!) This meant that we did not have to wear the whole Kanzu deal.
We went according to the program....
Arrival of invited guests - we came with the rest of the groomal (is that a word?) party that included the family and a few of Lau's pals such as Terry and Roselyn (who looks uncannily like old pal Esther Gathiri), Vidi, Uncle T and more. This involved us coming singing at the top of our voices. As we checked in we met the crane performers singing at the top of their voices as well. Unfortunately, they had drums and several string and wind instruments that completely neutralised our loud entry. Bummer.
Entacweka - Serving of soft drinks - we were served with some sort of porridge (very delicious!) as the proceedings continued.
To get in your mind the way the place was set up there were three tents. Two were facing each other, one for the groom, the other for the bride. The last one was for invited guests and dignitaries and this was in a more neutral position facing both the bride and groom.
Bridegroom informs gathering why they have come - here Lau had elected a nice Ugandan as his spokesman called Paul (his last name I cannot remember). He informed the bridal party that we had come to for a daughter from that home.
Soft Drinks from the grooms side: We then brought soft drinks. I had the dubious task of carrying a huge gourd with local brew on my head. The rest of the dudes were carrying crates of booze and sodas.
Introduction to the bridegroom: We then identified the bride. This was done by bringing two series of really hot girls and the groom then had to identify who his bride was. The first group of hot girls was really hot. The second group that included the bride was EVEN HOTTER if that was possible. All I must say is that Lau must be quite committed to his Joanita coz those babes... to die for!
Engagement: Presents from the brdiegroom: No need to expound. We basically carried in our gifts of rice, sugar, salt, flour etc.
Prayers: A priest prayed for us.
Lunch: We ate. The food was an interesting mix. I can't even pretend to remember the names of the delicacies on offer. The more interesting of them was some stuff in some white ghee like substance, an acquired taste. Also some Ugali like substance that was made from finger millet. Brown and very filling. And very nice. I think I some type of roasted bananas. More food.
Cutting of the cake: Duh!
Okuhingira - Initiation of the bride: I am trying to remember what this one is about. I swear I must have been too full from all the good food to remember what happened.
Reading of the muhingiro/ Bridal gifts - I think this was where the bride thanked the parents for the job well done raising her. A very tear jerking moment.
Also the bride's team presented the Mugamba a serious of gifts on a long pole that signified a lot to do with her tribal heritage: included a bucket to give a cow water and to milk a cow into and more such trinkets.
From the bride:
From the grooms family: this was a special one. A pal on our side thanked the family for welcoming us so well. It was quite a site to be behold as he weaved avocados that are grown in kandara sold at 1.05UK pounds in Southampton with the new engaged couple (I never got the connection).
Guest leave at their pleasure: we left after drinking copious amounts of wine. After the Kwanjula, we all took off to Lau's place where we reviewed the days proceedings.
The night after
After the proceedings, I took of with Uncle T and a few other pals - Roselyne, Terry, Vidi and we went of to Katikati where we went deep into discussion about the hottest places in Nairobi currently, Angloleasing, people being munched in various nightspots in Nairobi, the best places to pull clandes and more. A good time was had.
From here Uncle T dropped me off at the Steak out. If you are a Kenyan and feel homesick, this has to be the ideal place for you. There was no difference between this place and the buffet park in hurlingham. Beers at Ush2500. Kapuka, hip hop and R&B blaring from the speakers. It don't get less Kenyan.
As I was being mesmerised by the shaking booties, Lau was heading to the Alligator for some Karaoke with the rest of the group. After a dude hit their car and took off with them in hot pursuit, they finally ended at the Alligator where the sang their hearts out and drank large amounts of booze to forget their near death experience and celebrate being an engaged couple.
We eventually hooked up at the Steak out and a fun time was had by all.
Back to the motherland!
Back home I went over those waterfalls with a lot on my mind. I had to go back without a doubt. And this time I was determined to try out the legendary club in KLA – Club Silk; Angenoire the works…. As Schwarzenegger said in that movie… I'll be back!