Friday, December 17, 2010

The culture shock

So, today I visited a Kenyan wedding and I got a culture shock...after that while meeting with four running Estonians here. I knew that there are some Estonians staying in one guesthouse and we organised a meeting, so I went there and First I was talking with two girls and as nobody else said anything while we were talking, I assumed that everybody else are non-Estonians:) So, after kind of long time it finally came out that two guys who were sitting opposite me, were also Estonians.

So, for me, after all these months, if totally strangers (Kenyans) come to me with friendly smile, shaking my hand warmly, inviting me to their houses share the only food they have and offering their homes to "stay here as long as you want", always saying good bye: "I am so thankful for your visit, god bless you!". Honestly, I meet this friendly attitude and helpful approach a lot and the Estonian in me feels sometimes little bit uncomfortable in middle of all that. I am spoiled by all that and sometimes it is difficult to appreciate it, but now... I met two Estonians here, who even did not say "hello" to me. No, not that I blame anybody, far from that. I like if people behave the way they feel comfortable, not pretending, but during the following evening I felt that they are behaving the typical Estonian way in middle of Kenya... I am very proud of my nationality, but after travelling and living in so many different places, all Europeans are Europeans for me and it's not such a big deal anymore if somebody is German or Estonian or Swedish or anything else. In general I guess the more I learn about different cultures and countries, the less I recognize them. What I have learnt is that there are absolutely great people in every culture. I see a person, not nationality.

So, while travelling I am used to meet open-minded people who have somehow similarly forgotten the nationalities and are focusing on a person, but now I met the real Estonians in a context where I usually do not meet them. 

So, to finish this topic, the evening was great and conversations interesting and it is really good for a change to be in the European group of people. Who have lived alone in a different culture, I guess you understand me. Ehee...tomorrow again :)

But now the wedding. It was nice:) It was the first part of the ceremony: sending away the bride. So, the wedding had to start at 10, we reached there for 11 and I actually was worried that I was late, but of course nothing had started yet. So, there was about 30 people who had ALREADY arrived and others kept on coming. At 12.30 the food was ready and everybody stood in a line and got rice, beans, one potato, half chapati, meat and souce to one plate. Later on, everybody got as much additional food as they wanted and water as well. The food was made by women. The serving, cleaning up and dishes were done by men. I was told that the neighbors collect money and then buy the equipment that they need for the weddings (like a lot of plates and spoons and so on) together and use these things during several weddings. Also, the trucks are borrowed from some friends.

In general, the wedding was exactly my taste: it was a nice, but everybody felt themselves there comfortable, nobody came to show off and the host family was sincerely worried about that the people would have good time, but not worried that"everything would go perfect". The atmosphere was as relaxed.

Some people were singing...not very well. In some point I recognized, that I even did not notice how bad the singer was, because it did not seem to be important, the songs were amusing and the mood was good. Then I fell deep into my thoughts, analyzing in details following. If the singer is lame in Kenyan wedding, people still have a great time, but if same would happen in Estonia, it would be definitely a topic of dissatisfaction. 

After eating (it took about 2 hours), most of the people had finally arrived and little bit after 3 o'clock the real ceremony started. The bride came with 4 nice, but very small cakes. I looked around me, saw about more than 300 people and I realized that no cake for me today. Bride cutting the cake with some other women was the important part and then some lucky ones got cake. Bride and the escorting women sat on the chairs and then all the people started giving speeches that were regularly interrupted by the prayers. After some time, people started bringing envelopes to the big covered bowl in front of the bride - these were the rich people who had some money to give as gifts. Some presents were given as well. Then after 2 hours the speeches were finally over and all the relatives of both sides were lined up for many times into many different lines. This was the first time I saw the groom (and the last). The mothers of both, bride and groom, gave gifts to each other.

So the party ended (or started...) with music and dancing and as it was getting dark, people started heading home with the big trucks and matatus and anything else that they came with. I climbed to one truck and got a lift to the road where I was walking for a some time. I ended up in matatu, where I was pushed in, but I didn't mind, because, it was already dark.

After the wedding, the father of the bride (the host), came to me and thanked me for coming: "welcome back any time, this is home. thank you, thank you, good bless you!" The same text was repeated by other family members. 

The guest truck

Robert, thanks for inviting!

Hands clean...

...and to eat!

This food :)

The food line

The real house and the bride house before opening it

The relatives

House, where bride was sitting during all the ceremony

The important cake ceremony

The mothers changing presents

The bride on the LEFT :)

The most stylish dress....

The "kitchen"

I hope that the cake was good...

The cake...those, who got it...
From left: "800 meters runner", Robert (maraton man), the brother of bride (also a maraton man), I guess this one was the sister of bride and then the escort of bride and the musungu who had only hiking cloths with her during this trip :)

No comments:

Post a Comment