Unpredictability - Good for your health

Our modern life is based on organising an environment free from the unexpected. The house needs to be as stable and reliable as possible. The job as safe as possible. Nothing should break down. Nothing but what we predict, should occur.
This is the life of the zoo animal. Let's explore the life of the Nomad. Let's live the life of the Nomad.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Rwanda - And the Introduction Ceremony (Gusaba)

My partner raised the option of conducting the Introduction while in Rwanda. Initially I thought this would be a simple meet and greet type arrangement with perhaps a few speeches and exchanging of presents.  A dozen or so attendees. I was wrong.

It is the occasion where formally the bride to be presents the groom to be to her parents, friends and relatives.  The ceremony requires a presentation of a dowry.  This is normally a cow or two and is given to the bride's parents.  In our case I would gift the equivalent of a cow in liquidity.  There are presentations of gifts to the elders and food and drinks to everyone.  There would be in total over 120 attendees at this event.

The elders from both sides negotiate mischievously before agreement is reached - agreement that both families accept the new couple for a future marriage.  This is all ritualised and in fact all the representatives from my side of the family were friends and relatives of the bride and her family.  The event is coordinated by the master of ceremony and this person performs this role professionally - that is, he is paid for his services at multiple Introductions. Towards the end of the formal part of the ceremony there will be traditional dancing parties and again these are professionally paid performers.  And as with a normal wedding, the last part of the ceremony involves dancing and drinking in less formal attire.  The first part of the ceremony takes place with very traditional African attire.

The day started with a trip to a local hair dresser. I was accompanied by my partner's brother, Fred.  The barber was under quite some pressure to ensure the cut was perfect, and Fred supervised this rather important trip to the barber.

After this the representatives of my side of the family gathered at the hotel and dressed to the African standard.  My best man, Safari, instructed us on what we needed to do and how we needed to be dressed.  He even coached us in how we were to march into the location in the traditional way.  This is a slow walk with a walking stick motion not unlike seen in many military parades.  Safari would also be my translator - the ceremony would be conducted in Kinyawandan.
A quick gathering for prayer and we exited the hotel.  Onlookers were astonished as we walked to the waiting cars.  I suspect a white man in traditional African ceremony attire is a rare sight.

The ceremony was organised at my partner's sisters house and in the garden. There were three tents. One for the bride's family, one for the groom's family and one for the bride and groom to seat after the formal ceremonial negotiations are completed, and the engagement ring given to the bride.

On entering the garden I was amazed.  The tents and flower arrangements, the costumes and the tables and the chairs.  A huge effort by many people had gone into this and the presentation was incredible.  I sat down with my best man and the rituals began.  Safari did a great job of translating everything into English for me.

Once the negotiations were completed I stood up and waited for the bride to enter the garden. Olivia and her entourage looked amazing. We were all rather self conscious and nervous with so many eyes on us - thankfully the ceremony's formal aspect went without mishap.

This was followed by the traditional dancing, after which there was much pressure to change as quickly as possible out of our African outfits and into more western clothes.  The eating could then begin for everyone after my partner and I had our plates piled up with the foods of Africa.  There were quite a few Muslims at the party, and it was the period of Ramadan.  As you can imagine - many empty stomachs were craving the food.

The sun had set by the time the food was consumed.  The display at night was equally impressive. I rather self-consciously danced in the way I know how to: clumsily.  A celebrity Rwandan hip hop rapper put in a great performance for us. His singing name is Jay Pol and we were all thankful for the live show.

This was a Sunday and so the event finished around eight in the evening.  I felt humbled by all the efforts put in by everyone to make this ceremony special and unforgettable.

Peace to All


  1. Congratulations - what an amazing evening!!
    Robin and jenny, Romany Rambler, home in New Zealand

  2. Thank you Jenny. It was an amazing evening indeed. In fact the entire holiday was amazing - the greatest of travelling experiences.