Friday, January 13, 2012

Moses' Introduction

It has been about a month since my last post - sorry for the delay! Life here in Kayunga has been busy to say the least- plus I got to visit home for the holidays this year. At the beginning of November I able to attend my first Introduction Ceremony. The Introduction was for my friend and co-worker Moses. Moses is HIV Counseling and Testing Coordinator for Mukono and Kayunga Districts. Moses has been with his wife for over ten years and they have four beautiful children together. Typically a couple has their Introduction and wedding before having children, but Moses is apparently a non-traditional however much committed man.

We traveled to rural Masaka (west of Kampala) for his Introduction. Sixty staffs from Kayunga/Mukono all traveled together - setting off at 6 am. It was an early start to a very long and fun-filled day. Upon reaching Masaka Town we all stopped at a hotel to change into our traditional wear. Susan, who is my counterpart's fiance as well as a very close friend, helped me change into my gomez. We walked into a medium sized hotel room that was filled with woman all changing into various color and styles of dress. The room was abuzz with chatter and laughter - I was overwhelmed by the site. I was also amazed by the process of putting a gomez on - it was a process to say the least. Susan said I needed to put a kikoy on underneath my gomez to add some padding to my back side because she said it wasn't big enough - ha! When she was tying my kikoy right above my diaphragm so that it would hang down to my knees, she tied it so tight I could barely breathe. I think put on my gomez by buttoning the top two buttons and then Susan did the rest. There is a long piece of fabric that is left open when the gomez is initially put on. Susan folded the long part of cloth that hangs down from the left side of the dress upon itself like she was making a paper fan until the layered folds where against my body. She then took thin black string and tied it as tight as she could along my stomach - again making breathing difficult. This string kept the folded pieces together which ultimately I was thankful for because my whole dress would have fallen apart if it wasn't for the string. She then tied the traditional gomez belt on hiding the black string and I was all set. I told her how hard it was to breathe and her response was "beauty is pain" which made other women in the room laugh. Apparently the joke was on me, but I was dressed and ready to go.

The women lined up ready to enter the Introduction to represent Moses' family and friends

Mike (who is a British pre-medical student and completed a rotation in Kayunga) got to come too

The Introduction was full of formalities and was mostly spoken in Luganda. The guests belonging to the bride sat under one tent and the guests belonging to the groom sat under another tent. The first part of the Introduction is preparing the bride's family to hand over the bride to the groom. The women of the bride's family come out in different shifts to talk to the groom to decide whether or not he's ready to be a husband. Then the 'Aunties' come out to identify the groom that they know his face. Once he is identified that he is the groom the bride is allowed to come out.
The bride is in the middle in the blue gomez - her first of three outfits.

Bridal outfit number 2

After the ceremony of the bride's arrival there is some discussion about their love. Then the presents and dowry is presented to the family and the bride goes away to change her outfit and rest.

Joshua helping to bring in the 'presents'

The presents/dowry: lots of goodies for the price of a woman...

The rest of the Introduction is full of happy pronouncements of the couples love and eventually by the time the meal is served the bride and groom are allowed to be together and are culturally married.

The bride (outfit number 3) and the best man Henry passing out cake

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