By Ashley Goad, Director of Global Missions
Last summer, June 2014, our mission team traveled to Uganda. It was that trip when Eve Kajja, the headmistress at Agape Christian Academy, and I became so close. We talked about everything – life, school, work, even marriage. Eve confided how she had disappointed her family by not yet marrying. Being an independent American woman, I didn’t quite understand, but she explained how she wished to give her family not just children, but the dowry they deserved.
A dowry is a transfer of parental property at the marriage of a daughter, and in Uganda, it is customary for the man to pay a significant dowry to the bride’s family. Gifts range from cows, chickens, and furniture to bags of sugar and cases of Fanta orange soda. As Eve lamented to me about not finding a husband, our matchmaking thoughts turned to Vincent Sserunkuma, the Christian young man running the African Village Hotel, where our teams lodge while in Uganda. We mentioned the possibility to Eve and did likewise with Vincent. Little did we know, when we returned in August 2015, we’d be attending Eve & Vincent’s wedding! Technically, we did not attend the wedding. Technically, we attended the groom’s introduction to the bride’s family and village. Literally, it lasted all day.
Here are a few observations from the Wedding Introduction:
- The groom arrived 90 minutes late due to a miscommunication with the truck carrying the dowry.
- The groom, his family, friends, & the dowry arrived in a convoy of 7 vehicles.
- The bride changed dresses 5 times.
- The bride’s mother was not part of the ceremony; her aunt (father’s sister) was her representative.
- Eve’s rep & Vincent’s rep negotiated the dowry for nearly 8 hours.
- Vincent’s family and friends, individually and on top of their heads, carried the entire dowry from the truck to the party.
- A ceremony took place inside the house involving coffee beans, water, and the groom giving the bride’s father a Bible. I believe Eve’s father gave Vincent his blessing during that time.
- Vincent gave Eve’s representative a chicken in one hand and a briefcase in the other. This signifies old customs meeting new traditions.
- Dancing and music are important pieces in African Introductions. Vincent danced. Eve danced. The bridesmaids danced. Even Jill danced. The only person who did not dance – the bride’s father.
- The groom’s representative chose one of the dowry gifts to give the bride. He chose a hard suitcase. Eve was elated.
- Did I mention the ceremony was 8 hours?
God has blessed us abundantly with faithful friendships and fruitful partnerships! Not only can we install clean water systems
and sponsor orphanages, but we can also introduce our leaders to their future spouses! While I love learning, especially when it comes to behaviors and customs unique to that culture, being part of this wedding and serving as the photographer, gave me even greater joy. We wish Vincent and Eve a life long journey of happiness and commitment to God and each other!
Subscribe to this (almost daily) blog version of The Columns by entering your email address in the subscription panel located in the sidebar (Desktop) or below (Mobile).