A Kenyan Wedding

Weddings here are quite different to what we’ve experienced in the West. If I were to start a business here it would be in the wedding industry – there’s masses of money to be made. Our friends Steve and Edith invited us to a business partners sons wedding in Nakuru. It meant leaving home at 6.30am and returning the next morning at 1.30am.

We took Steve’s Pajero which broke down half way through the trip so we had to wait for another car to come from Nairobi. I was quite happy with that as the service was 4 hours long! We got their in time for the last 45 minutes. It was all in Swahili except for when the MC gave instructions for the reception.

Check out the video HERE

Because we were two of only three white people we were all the rave for shaking hands. As if I could remember any of their names!! We even had photos with the bridal party. Instantly we were family.

Silly me thought I would go to the toilet when we got to the reception area as it was a sports club. We got there to find out that it was at a sport grounds in marquees. I wasn’t sure if I could make it through the day but then the MC announced that there was a washroom AKA toilet in another area. The day was saved!

cake

The cakes

At Kenyan weddings there is lots of dancing, usually before the bridal party arrives. I used the excuse of a sore foot (it was true) but a bit hard to explain a neuroma when no one can see it and wearing high heels is a killer. It was a convenient excuse from being totally embarrassed, especially when you’re the only white women amongst hundreds.

We ended up sitting in the VIP area right next to the grooms parents. The food was typically Kenyan so very nice. By the time we had food the bridal party still hadn’t arrived. Apparently they might not do so until the end.

bridesmaids

The bridesmaids

The setup was that the brides family sit under one marquee opposite the grooms family with lots of grass in between. In the middle were several cakes under a smaller marquee.

After the bridal party arrived of course there were the speeches but the important part was the family gifts. It was a major competition between the families about who could bring more and bigger presents. It was mentioned about the gifts that had already been given like an oven. Of course when it came to the grooms side it was done with much ceremony and pomp and the announcement was made that the father had bought them a piece of land.

marquee

One of the many marquees

We thought it was all over until the cake cutting ceremony. The bride kneels to feed her husband a piece of cake and then vice versa.  Another cake is cut and then served to the parents (and us), they didn’t get it that I can’t eat cake because I’m gluten free. Hope they didn’t think I was a snob!

After everything we planned to head home, but no, we had to go to the parents place for an after wedding thing, apparently it’s the norm. Hence we didn’t get home until 1.30am!

Living Without Technology

The last month has been one of the most frustrating all year – for technology anyway. Technology is great, when it works. When it doesn’t I feel powerless and want to throw my laptop out the window – which of course I don’t do even though I feel like it.

techI’ve spent endless hours and Skype calls between Nairobi, Auckland and Sydney trying to sort out our new website and emails. I built this new website but couldn’t get it launched because of name servers, login details and email systems that wouldn’t work. Then of course, there’s the electricity which decides to go off for hours. In fact we had almost 2 days without power. Just to top it off the battery in my laptop decided to crap out so it decided all by itself when and where it would go.

Can you imagine being without power, the internet, your phone or computer – for a whole day? How do you work, talk to people overseas, find out addresses, look for businesses, design material, contact people or prepare school lessons?

masai

Masai warrior

I see people on Facebook who say they are going to do a fast for a week or month from it. While that’s nice, I see other people complaining that the power went out for two whole hours and their life was miserable. The thing is, we are so reliant on technology that I don’t think any of us can really do without it. I see Masai men herding their cattle in the middle of nowhere who access apps to see what the price of meat and veges are going for at the market.

lap

The only way to make my charger work.

One of the things we miss is the convenience of life, including access to technology. Living without it is a pain in the butt however it’s the reality of life for millions of people. So we learn to celebrate when we do have it, and survive when we don’t.

Here’s how we manage our challenging situation in Kenya:

  • Keep electronics charged 24/7
  • Put on surge protectors
  • Make sure you have enough credit on your phone for both airtime and the internet
  • Carry a plug in internet flash drive (with credit loaded)
  • Put at least 1,000KES (about $10) on your Mpesa system
  • Remember the cafes that have free wireless internet
  • Have a solar lamp powered up and ready to go
  • Have spare lights around the house
  • Buy a washing machine that automatically goes on when the power returns

What is your plan of action for living without technology?