This weekend we had a party at my house so the family could meet my sister Daisy’s boyfriend. This visitation was a lot more formal than I expected. For some background, when a couple is dating, they go through certain formal steps. This was the first step for my sister and her boyfriend: meeting the parents. This is also when the paternal aunt meets the boyfriend, because the aunt is who is involved in the next stage, which is the Introduction. This is like an engagement announcement party, where the man is introduced to more of the girl’s family and friends. Usually the whole village is invited to the Introduction. This is also when they bring the dowry. The next step, if there is enough money, is to get married in the church. If not, the couple may just start living together and having kids, and they are considered married. I’m still a little confused about the details of the whole process, but this is the way I understand it to be.
So back to the weekend. Saturday morning as I was washing my clothes with my sister Joyce, some of the family members came back from the market with A LOT of food and sodas. I spent the day cutting up vegetables, making matoke, and cleaning the house. As we were preparing, I learned that we were getting ready for the family to meet Daisy’s boyfriend, and it was a pretty big deal. You don’t just bring a guy home to meet your parents unless you hope to marry, because it is shameful then if things don’t work out. Sunday the boyfriend and some of his family were supposed to come around 2. I went to church, and when I came back, there were some family members that I had to meet. I sat and chatted with an aunt and a cousin for a bit, then it was time to put a gomez on. The gomez is the traditional dress for women in Uganda. My sisters and I got all ready, took some pictures, and then it was time to wait. There was actually a lot of just sitting around and waiting that day. The boyfriend and his family came a little before three, and then there was a lot of talking between the males of my family and the boyfriend’s family. Us women (other than the one aunt) sat in another part of the house hidden behind a door. After an hour or so, the sisters and I filed into the sitting room and knelt and greeted the boyfriend’s family. Kneeling is a sign of respect, and when younger people greet someone older than them, they kneel, and women will kneel to men. So we knelt, and my sisters greeted the family. I did not know these Luganda greetings, so I just smiled. After we left the room, everyone started laughing, and later they said someone made a comment about how one of the daughters looked different than the rest.
The whole thing took about 7 hours, most of which was spent sitting with my sisters and a few brothers and watching them tease each other and joke around. We finally got to eat around 5, and it was delicious. The aunt served the boyfriend and his family the meal in the sitting room, and our family ate outside and in the other part of the house. After eating, my sister, mom, and maternal aunt had to go back in and be introduced to the boyfriend’s family. After that, the boyfriend brought in gifts of food and soda, and then they left. We spent the rest of the evening cleaning up, and then I ate a little bit of leftovers and went to bed.
Hopefully if there is an Introduction it will be sometime while I am still here. We figured out today that we only have about 3 weekends left with our families, which seems crazy. Every other weekend is spent on trips. This semester seems like it is flying by, which is good and bad at the same time. It will be good when it’s time to go home, to be with family and friends and the comforts I know, but I am happy with where I am now. I am thankful that things are becoming more comfortable to me here, and I am enjoying what I am learning and doing. I am content :)
The women in their gomez dresses.
Back: Aunt Max, Mama Resty
Front: Sister Daisy, Aunt Jean (the one who did the introducing)
Sibling picture (I'm not sure how the little kid sitting on the steps fits in the family, and there are more siblings not pictured)
Back: Me, Joyce
Middle: Daisy, Maria
Front: Peter, Matilda, Martin
Me with the younger boys. Stewart is in the yellow, Joseph is in the stripes, and Bosco snuck in the back. They are funny.