Nairobi weddings are wonderful. Wonderfully boring that is. Routine, predictable, tradition. Perhaps that is how a wedding is supposed to be, boring.
First, they’re all on Satos. That’s another Nairobi thing, Sato. A Sato is a super day that comes after Friday, sunny, windy, blue sky. The only bad thing about Sato is weddings. Sato must not be confused with Saturday – that plain old first day of the weekend. Me, I love Satos.
Let’s go back a little. First, this wedding was conceived in another wedding, a ‘committee’ was formed. A loose coalition of friends and relatives whose blood will be extracted to finance this concert. The wedding committee’s job is to attend meetings where relatives talk about relatives who fail to attend. Generally, people in committees take their job very seriously. They print out cards and sell to strangers who don’t know you so that you can have a good boring wedding. No one knows why they do this. Perhaps it is that deep desire within those new to Nairobi, to be in a wedding line-up.
Then there is a flurry of activities, colour schemes, venue visits, dress fittings, cake tastings, before the big Sato. Then the BIG Sato! Green open grounds, orange tents, expensive cars looking meek in purple ribbons. The ladies, all have the same hair do, gel, tightness, and a bun on top – shiny clothes. The chaps are in costly ‘najivunia’ suits, increasingly with an African print shirt made in Westgate.
There is an MC who will imitate a politician. There is a boy band which will imitate another boy band.
Mad aunts, often just old maids from way back may get inspired by a mathematical angel, and the mic tightly in her mouth, spank everyone with her rendition of Munishi’s unreleased.
If you’re getting married, block out that day, the wedding will take the whole day. If you’re a guest, it will only take roughly your whole day, mainly between 8.00 am and midnight. You’re free before and after that.
Sitting has rules. There is a high table, bride’s side, and groom’s side. As a rule, the further you are from people, the less important you are. You’ll also notice your plastic plate doesn’t have a small piece of stewed chicken.
When it comes to weddings, trust your instincts. At least when it comes to food, trust your instincts and eat nothing. I never understood how they can feed so many well dressed people, from small metal dishes, so much bad food, and warm soda, from a wooden crate, and get paid for it. As a rule no wedding ever has a cold soda.
A cake follows. Often a very nice cake. As nice as the cake in the wedding last week and the one before it. The cake is placed in a small flowery tent nicknamed ‘Gazebo’.
Everything has a special name in a wedding; bridal party, matron of honour, maid of honour, best man, groom, bride, stag (yay!). Even taking jpegs is called a photo session. Talking is called a speech session. Then prayer session. Then confusion.
No one knows how to end a wedding. There are murmurings, cars reversing, where next? I need a ride.
Some weddings are exceptional. Like mine for instance. My cake, for one, this kind lady, a full 3 feet when standing straight (about 7 feet tall when angry) this lady, she made the cake in Kampala, booked a whole bus, Akamba. On each single seat, she placed a cake. So the yellow bus, kind lady, driver, and cakes. The bus driver retired after this trip. So did all the traffic cops between K’la and Nairobi, for they had truly seen it all.
The groom’s mother, when asked to speak, told the bride that she is lucky to have been chosen at the very last minute from a shortlist of 8! The bride’s father asked the audience to please remind him which of his daughters is getting married this time. There were 6 grooms men, from 4 different nationalities, united by a famous bird, in a bottle, being passed around under the table. The last chap forgot and passed the bottle on to Father. The good Father, forgetting where he was, took a swig. I have since been banned from all churches. Makanisa chote!
I have no idea why we put ourselves through this, wasting precious Satos, and the lord gave us only one Sato each week. And we waste them on boring weddings. We organise them, we attend them, and we star in them.
There used to be a wedding season, from July to December, now there is no season, nor reason.
It used to be, bring your parents, friends, relatives, a holy man, and your god or gods, and before all these assembled, preferably in a holy-ish place, you declare your love for this person no one understands. You say how you’ll love, respect, honour them (and hurriedly mention something about death). That was the main thing. Commit, promise; it’s even called a vow.
And we should never forget that. You don’t have to get married, but when you do, remember, you’re wasting everyone’s Sato to declare your commitment to a union that doesn’t make sense to them. When seated at the high table being served warm soda, remember this.
So please respect the time and money people put in by at least trying to make it a good marriage.
And the rest of us, eating, sitting, getting bored. We spent time, money and energy for this one day. How come we can’t spend even one minute thereafter to try make sure this senseless union lasts. We laugh when they fall. When they fight, instead of supporting both, we take sides, strengthening one side against the other. Both lose.
So how can we help them stay together? I don’t know, the groom, si I thought he is your homie? You should know.