There’s something special about experiencing the way different cultures celebrate love, so we were thrilled when two weeks after arriving we were invited to the ‘introduction’ of Betty, one of Dayna’s colleagues. An introduction in Uganda is kind of like an engagement party however a lot of couples don’t go on to get ‘properly’ married so it kind of does the job of a wedding as well. The purpose is to, wait for it… ‘introduce’ the husband and his family to the family and community of the bride-to-be. Despite the fact Betty knew her husbands family pretty well, without a formal introduction with key people from the community the relationship will go unrecognised.
Essentially if no one knows about it, it didn’t happen.
We assumed we’d just go with the standard attire we’d wear to an engagement party until the night before the big day when our local mate, Tonny, informed us that Ugandan’s wear traditional dress to these events. The men typically wear a ‘Kanzu’ and the women wear a ‘Gomez’. Before we finished our meals he’d sourced Dayna a Gomez from the lady who owns the Brovad and had given us directions to where Logan could buy a Kanzu and suit jacket the following morning.
A Kanzu is kind of like a big white MuMu worn over your clothes, really not that flattering. A Gomez on the other hand is a beautiful, silk, traditional dress – a bit like a Kimono crossed with a Saree. Turns out literally every second shop in town sells Kanzu’s and there are more than a handful of blokes on the side of the road flogging second hand suit jackets. Logan managed to score a Hugo Boss one (it could be fake). By the time he returned Dayna had been dressed (or harnessed) into her Gomez and we were set.
The choice to go with traditional dress paid off, it was clear the effort was appreciated by the locals. Although they had a funny way of showing it as we walked in to 400+ Ugandan’s laughing and pointing! Needless to say we were the only Mzungu’s (white people) in attendance. The rest of the day was to be honest, pretty confusing. The formalities went for a good 4-5 hours and of course everything was in the local language of Luganda, the 5 – 10 words we’d picked up so far really didn’t help us much!
At one stage we saw a truck loaded with furniture pass by, the next minute people were carrying through sofas, dining tables, crates of Fanta, goat carcasses, matooke and what seemed like 100’s of white cane baskets. We came to realise this was the dowry for Betty’s family. Somewhere between the gift procession and the MC performances we overheard the words ‘Mzungu’ and ‘Europeans’ in amongst a bunch of Luganda and it became clear we were being talked about. Next thing you know Logan had a microphone in his hand and was asked to make a speech! Luckily he doesn’t shy away from the spotlight and clearly did an OK job when his speech resulted in the MC yelling “Australian’s you are welcome!!”.
With the formalities done and dusted the party was ready to begin and partying is something Ugandan’s do extremely well. We spent the rest of our time drinking warm beers, trying to dance and taking selfies with guests who weren’t backwards in coming forward! Everyone loves a photo with a Mzungu!
Can’t get enough? Have a read about our incredible Gorilla Trekking experience!