Monday, July 27, 2015

African Wedding

FROG HOSPITAL -- July 26, 2015 -- unsubscribe anytime
Zimbabwe, 1997
By Fred Owens

​An African Wedding. The bride and her brothers stand with the groom -- that is -- me. Precious has changed from her bridal gown to a festive red dress. Uncle Smiley is striking a pose by leaning with cousin Tanti.

It seems we are discussing the serious midlife question of marriage. Last week it was Kansas, 1976, and my first wife when I was 30 This week it is Zimbabwe, 1997, and my second wife when I was 51.
I was completely serious about marriage. In all my youthful rebellion against authority -- against the Church, the Corporation, the University and the Government -- in all that rebellion I never questioned marriage, but always believed it was just the way it was supposed to be, that a man and a woman should belong to each other and love each other their whole lives and have children, and if the man and the woman loved each other completely, then the children would be just fine.
I always believed that because that's how I grew up. My father loved my mother  -- things were as they should be. So some day I would do the same.
Twice. I got married twice. I had such an unshakable belief, but really a trust -- I trusted that I would choose the right woman. It could not possibly choose wrongly because my intentions were so good and true.
I'm tired of apologizing for this. It's what I did. And what I did was the best I could do. I got married. Completely, body and soul, binding, under the full force of the law, man and wife.

African wedding customs agreed with my own attitude. In Africa there is no concept of being single. It just doesn't exist. Everyone is married, and often. The idea of any solitary existence is simply too strange for Africans to understand.

Indoda is the word for man and the word for husband. A man is a husband and a father or he is not a man. Umfazi is the word for woman and wife. A woman is a wife and mother or she is not a woman.
People get married in Africa. It's as natural as getting out of bed in the morning.
I wore a suit with a red tie. She wore full-dress Western-style bridal gown, rented. We  had a cake and champagne afterward, a reception with lots of food and beverages.  Zimbabweans get married in a modern style and do not put on a tribal dance for the tourists.
Fifty Matakas came to our house on the wedding day -- all cousins and aunties, brothers, sisters, and a few friends. Precious didn't really have many friends -- just tons of relatives. Fifty Matakas and me.
I was so glad that Lieutenant Jones showed up, a neighbor, an officer in the Zimbabwe National Army. He was a colored man and he stood for me  -- the Best Man. Jones was half-white himself -- about the color of Barack Obama -- and had that same even temperament.
The Matakas came to the house and the rented car waited in the driveway and Precious put on her beautiful white gown and veil.
The wedding party was small. Lt. Jones drove the car. Mr. Mataka took the honored front seat. Precious and I and her cousin Tanti squeezed into the back seat.
We drove downtown, ten minutes from the house, to the office of an Indian travel agent, but he was also a Justice of the Peace and he kept a richly furnished wood-panelled court room upstairs, where the vows were spoken and the documents were signed.
And then we drove back to the house. I was in a state of shock.
Did we actually do that?   I was so glad Lt. Jones was there, otherwise I was all alone in a sea of fifty Matakas.
Jones' wedding advice was clear -- "You must move far away because the Matakas have a very large family. You cannot feed them, they will use all your money and you will become poor."
This is exactly what happened -- we did not move far enough away. The Matakas used all my money and I became poor, but it took seven years and I don't want to get into that. I'm trying to write a happy story -- the union of America and Africa -- a bridge of understanding and love.

The wedding day was marvelous. Everyone was happy and I was proud of my house and my new family. Finally everybody left, piling into Mr. T's overloaded pickup truck and Precious and I were left alone with a bottle of brandy to face the future.

And there was love, but the understanding never came.

Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
My writing blog is Frog Hospital

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