Saturday, June 24, 2017
Saturday found most of us awake bright and early. The 5am call to prayer at the local mosque probably helped with that. After breakfast, we exchanged American dollars for Burundian francs. This is where you walk in with a handful of bills and walk out with a grocery bag full of bills. It’s great. You feel so rich when you can talk about spending money in the millions and have more money than wallet–a condition with which I rarely suffer.
My heart sank a bit when I heard our host was taking us to a wedding function known as a dowry ceremony. Great! I travel half-way around the world to attend a boring dress-up event while I am jet lagged out of my gourd. I envisioned awkward social interactions in a language I don’t understand with people I do not know. This ranks just above jamming a sharp pencil in my ear and just below hitting my hand with a hammer in my list of desirable life events.
I’m so glad I did not opt for smashing my hand. The evening was delightful. It was an engagement party with a cultural twist. The families of the bride and groom sit across a lawn from each other for a mock negotiation for the bride. The groom’s family asks to have the bride for their son. The bride’s family refuses, and negotiations ensue in earnest. Negotiations last about 90 minutes until an accord is reached. What follows is celebration through dance and music in traditional outfits. Eventually the bride is presented and the celebration started anew with fresh vigor. When a group of Africans decide to party it is a sight to behold.