Saturday, June 5, 2010

Goat cake

I had the pleasure of attending my first Tanzanian wedding last weekend with some friends. The groom is my mechanic, and a friend of Ibra's. Wedding invitations are distributed to people who donate money to the event. There is a tradition here of going around to people and asking them to either pledge money for the wedding celebration or to give money up front. This allows the bride and groom to add people to their guest list and cover the costs for the ceremony, wedding band (which drives around in the wedding party caravan, in the back of a pick up truck, playing lively music), reception space and dinner, drinks, decorations and so on.



There are several very 'Tanzanian' traditions that make up a wedding, but my favourite by far is the goat cake. In keeping with the culture of carnivores, a wedding ceremony is not complete without the carving of a roasted goat, decorated with fruit and kept in it's living form, sitting upright on a platter. Like a wedding cake, the carving of the first piece is a photo opportunity for the bride and groom and they then shave the meat up and add it to the buffet for their guests.
 The reception continued with the presenting of gifts, accomplished by going up in table groups and dancing to and from the gift table which was placed in front of the bride and groom. The newlyweds had to stand to receive their gifts of kangas, dishes, cards and decorations for their home while people continued in trains to go up before them and dance. This went on for a couple of hours, with the bride and groom standing the whole time.
The dancing progressed to include the classic butt-jiggling routine performed by several of the younger ladies, in front of the gift table and guests. We laughed as we realized that some of this dancing was obviously aimed at John, our friend who came with us.

All was going well until a stray cat (stray cats roam freely here and they're quite gross) strolled up to my chair and proceeded to pee on my leg. It wasn't until the cat had left that I noticed warm wetness. It wasn't the nicest part of the evening for me. Will, ever the optimist, seems to think it's a sign of good luck but I beg to differ. Anyone who has ever been peed on by a scraggly wild creature knows that it feels anything but lucky.