21 February 2006

Traditional Cake

Hello everyone! I spent the weekend in Karatu, a town about 2.5 hours from Arusha, near the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Allen owns a bed and breakfast there. We went to a wedding on Saturday night with seating for 1000 people! Seriously, 1000! It was outside with all the seating under tents. We arrived at 4:30 because one of Esther’s friends that we were traveling with had made the wedding cake and needed to be there early to set up (it was cake like we have in the states, not the “traditional cake”, which I’ll get to in a moment). The reception lasted until 1 am, making for a very long evening. The ceremony was in a church (most others and we didn’t go to the church) and then the bride and groom came via horse drawn carriage to the reception site. Some things were very similar to US weddings including the coordinated colors, many flowers and decorations, and a maid of honor and best man. However, they also had a few dozen “brides maids” of three age groups each with their own similar style, but same color dresses. They served everyone dinner and there was free beer and wine the entire night, I don’t want to even know the total cost for alcohol. There was the cutting of the wedding cake and then the bride and groom fed a piece not only to each other, but to members of their family and really close friends. Then came the “traditional wedding cake” that, as you can see from the picture, was a full-bodied goat, cooked with head/horns/legs intact and then garnished with tomatoes and cucumbers. The bride and groom cut pieces for each other and again fed family and close friends. Then the goat was cut up and each person at the wedding was given a small piece of the “cake” (I politely declined, I had already eaten some meat for dinner and was at my limit). Afterwards there was the presentation of gifts, which took at least 2 hours. At first, it was just individual people who formed a dancing line and presented the couple with their gift and then received a keepsake handkerchief. Then groups of people would dance up to the bride and groom to present their collective gifts. All the while by the way, everyone dancing caused a dust storm of fine red silt to shower down on us coating our glasses, faces, drinks, and food (all I could think of was the bride’s beautiful white wedding gown and how dirty it was getting). Then after all the gifts there were some speeches (not by the families, but other people, I’m not sure who and why). Overall, despite how exhausted I was, it was a fun night and very interesting to experience a Tanzanian wedding.

We spent most Sunday just lounging around the B&B and then went to a very nice hotel (think many outdoor bungalows, not a Hilton type structure). Allen helped build the hotel and is good friends with the owners so we went to say hello and I had the BEST mango juice, I could live off the stuff! On Monday we relaxed in the morning and returned home in the afternoon.


Blogger katie said...

Goat huh? I have a feeling you are never going to want to see a goat again. The rest of the wedding sounds awesome. I love the pictures, and i love you! Later pater!

2:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting the way certain customs are followed no matter where one is. I also like to see though, that they keep to their own traditions...even if it does mean goat!!


1:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a wonderful blog site! Hope the rest of your time there is productive, and that you have a safe, quick trip home.
Uncle Jay

11:37 PM  

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