My mouth is dry, my feet hurt and I’ve got a pounding headache. It’s the morning after Aime and Yvette’s wedding. What an unreal and amazing experience! If you ever get the chance to go to a Burundian wedding – grab on to it and don’t let go!
Waking up this morning, a joke by Irish stand up comedian Ed Byrne (check him out if you’re not familiar with his work) popped into my head: ”The best thing about getting married is to wake up the morning after and be like: Woohoo!! I don’t have to plan a wedding today!”
Although I haven’t got married, I can easily understand what Ed’s trying to say; nothing can go wrong. It’s supposed to be your happiest day of your life. You’ve invested insane amounts of money, time and effort into something, which is intended to set a foundation for the rest of your monogamous life. Waking up and not deal with the stress anymore.. – must be a very liberating feeling indeed! Pretty sure Aime feels the same way this morning.
I find it somewhat ironic that my first ever-wedding experience took place in the heart of Africa. When I tell this to people I meet, they laugh at me. ”No wedding before?” It’s hard for them to believe what I’m saying. What is also baffling to comprehend is the fact that I’m lacking a wife. ”But why?” they say with big confused eyes. Utterly surprised and bewildered.
These extreme differences are what I love about this trip (amongst many things). There have been so many ”Aahaaaa” and ”Whaaaaat!?” moments already. Both for the Burundians I meet and for myself. New thoughts, knowledge and ideas are constantly being exchanged between us.
It goes to show that you can do the very same thing in a million different ways. Your way doesn’t necessarily have to be the right one.
In order for you to decide that your idea is superior to anyone else’s, you need to know and understand the opposing alternative. You need to have both ideas on the table in front of you. Analyze and puzzle out an opinion about this particular idea. Then finally, motivate why you prefer idea no. 1 over idea no. 2.
However, as a Swede, it’s not particularly controversial to reason like this. Simply because we are allowed. Encouraged to speak our opinion. Essentially we don’t have a choice. We learn this from a young age. Our national school curriculum demands all students to ask questions and be critical to pass a class. It’s stated in our constitution.
”I don’t agree with your opinion, but I’m willing to die for it”, someone once said to underline the importance of freedom of speech.
The situation here is different. As opposed to Sweden, Burundi is immensely religious (the majority are Christian Catholics). School standards still have light years before it can be compared to what we have. Job opportunities after university (if you’re lucky enough to be enrolled in the first place) are more or less non-existent. Density of technology is a joke compared to northern Europe, so on and so forth.. The point here is that there are many factors that you need to take into consideration when judging people’s opinions. Yes, many here are homophobic. They oppose abortion. Marriage is standard at a young age. May even be with someone you didn’t choose yourself. Many people are poor. First and foremost poor in terms of choice in life.
In history, people obviously have come up with new ideas by themselves. Ancient Greeks for instance. Weren’t they thinking and reasoning all day everyday? Nevertheless, in general, you are much more prone to expand your mind with some kind of help. May it be in school. A role model. Media. The ability to gather a mass and discuss politics. You name it.
Anyhow, when you’re not exposed to a diversity of ideas, how are you going to pick and choose from the table in front of you? If there’s merely one item present, won’t you pick that one up? Your tool to use. To believe in. Ultimately a notion of the world perhaps?
It’s easy to say: ”I’m so proud to be Swedish. People in other countries are stupid”. In my opinion, you’ve only gone with the flow all your life. Someone put you in daycare when you were two years old. If you got sick someone held your hand on the way to the hospital (in which you received treatment free of charge). Whenever you feel like it, you can drop in to a class at university. When you finally reach 65 you receive monthly funds, which you’ve earned through your job you got after graduating.
To justify the sentence mentioned above, you have to use all acquired tools and opportunities (which are poor children’s highest wish all over the world) awarded to you in life (simply because you were lucky enough to be born on a particular geographic spot) and not look down on others. Do you honestly think you, as an individual, would have the same noble opinions and flawless notion of the world if you were born in a less privileged place? If your answer is no, that means people are shaped by their surrounding environment. People per se are not stupid.
Anyway. Where was I? Oh yeah. The wedding.. It started off with a convoy of limousines to the church. Man, the contrasts couldn’t have been more vivid. Five well dressed white people in a limousine rolling down the streets of Bujumbura with locals staring us down. The poverty outside the window appeared to be more severe than usual. I started to laugh when the limo almost got stuck because of the bad road conditions. A bizarre scenario.
The choir in church gave me goose bumps and made my eyes tear up. One of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard.
After church we got dressed in traditional Burundian clothes and moved on to the next ceremony, which was located on the beach. Hundreds of people gathered. Traditional drumming and dance performances. Speeches. Gifts were handed out.
Third ceremony was only for the closer family and friends (about 100 people). Aime and Yvette was sitting in the middle of the crowd, which was divided on either side (depending on you were part of Yvette or Aime’s closer family). Yvette’s parents didn’t join this celebration because it included songs referring to virginity and wedding night bed action haha. A singing and clapping battle between the two sides took place. One side started and the other one answered.
At the last stop we ate, sang karaoke and danced to African rhythms till 5 o’clock in the morning. It’s remarkable how well Africans dance! They move their body in a different way to westerners. It’s as if they possess muscles we lack. A prominent ability to control their body.
Once or twice during the night a techno song was played. It became obvious that this was the muzungu’s time to shine! We happily swung our arms in the air. A move famously known as ”the hammer”. The locals weren’t very impressed..
When I told you that yesterday were my first wedding experience ever, I lied. Technically I attended my parents wedding. They got married on a top of a mountain. Wearing ski gear. On the very same spot where they first met four years earlier. Their infant son (me), replaced the customary flowers in my mothers hand. ”I had the world’s most beautiful bouquet”, she use to tell me. God bless her.
Compared to what I experienced yesterday, their wedding was much more modest. Yet beautiful. It goes to show that there are a million different ways to do something. There’s no right from wrong.