Rwanda: Friday Weddings
I'm putting up a number of posts I wrote while out in the village. I am leaving to visit coffee farmers for the next several days, and don't expect to have internet access. Pace yourself and enjoy!
On Friday, there are brides in the village. I spot the first one, dressed in white, with her bridesmaids in stiff blue satin in the back of a car. When I arrive at the work room for the basket makers, in the back a bride and her bridesmaids are getting dressed. These bridesmaids are in safety orange satin with an enormous bows on the back of the dresses. The bride carries silk flowers. She is fearful of what is to come.
Women cannot marry until they are 21, but if they make it to 23 without marriage, they are considered old.
The priest will have the couples form a semi-circle, and he will go around and marry them. On some days, he will do one group and then another. I was told that there were 15 couples marrying today.
They will have cake after the ceremony. A nun has prepared 3 small cakes, held at different levels on a stand which is decorated with bright Christmas garland.
At night, walking on the dark dirt road back from a house, with a tipsy nun who gave the benediction to people we passed, and with children screaming, “Mnzugu! White peeeeople!”, we passed people heading home from the marriages.
Tomorrow friends will come to bring the couples gifts–mostly food that they will empty from baskets they have carried on their heads. An offering to get a household started.
If the women do not have a baby in 9 months, people will start to speculate about what is wrong. In this very Catholic village, the women tell me that birth control, which is not condoned by the church, makes them feel not healthy, so it is better to just go on having babies.
Rwanda is a crowded country, with even rural areas being densely populated. There are many children, but people don’t want to think about potential future problems. After what they’ve been through, I can hold no judgement.