I’ve been away in Kenya for the last couple of weeks. I had a great time but the time felt too short. I have a wife now, I had a great wedding while I was home, I got to see my parents and family. It’d been a year since I’d last seen them. I had a good time and before I knew it, it was time to fly back.
I had lots of planning to finish up before the wedding and time just flew by so fast. I had to go for dowry negotiations known as Koitoo. This means you go and meet your in-laws. You go with some of your relatives and friends and your wife to be also has a line-up of older folks. You all sit in a room and do negotiations. It was very straight forward. I’m not allowed to talk, neither is my bride to be allowed to talk. I just listen but she is not present in the room.
The main negotiations are about a token to be given to her parents from my side. Their community has set the token as 4 cows,1 bull and 1 goat. You can bring the real animals or cash. The goat has to be in cash value. You cannot give all the cows at one go as it’s a friendship being formed and it will be for a lifetime. You’ll be giving the token forever..:) I know it sounds complicated but it wasn’t that hard.
Once there is an agreement about the cow price. Cooking oil is exchanged between the mothers, blankets are exchanged, sour milk (Mursik) is passed all round to those in the room. Then there is a mock departure by the groom’s side with the bride, before the leave the compound the bride’s side takes her back indoors.
Then there is a big feast, Lunch for all present. It’s different for all communities in Kenya. We had lunch, speeches, more exchange of stuff. By stuff I mean scarves, blankets, gourds.
Technically according to the traditions I had a wife but that ceremony is not recognized by law. We had a church wedding a week after. We had a small ceremony. Small in comparison to what is the norm. We had 180 guest. That is small according to Kenyan culture. 500 -2000 guests is the norm. You have so many guests at your wedding that you don’t recognize nearly three quarters of those present. That was not the case at our ceremony.
We went for a short honeymoon after that and before we knew it was time to fly back to the states.
The most difficult part. Leaving my wife behind. It was hard. It’s going to be lonely for a while but I have to look at the bigger picture. She’s going to be here at some point. That gives me hope. I miss her so bad but I have to hang in there and have hope.
I feel lost for a bit being back but I’m getting the hang of things a day at a time.