When Chibesa, also working for Credit Suisse in London, and Makaika, her younger sister living in Lusaka, mentioned that they would be very pleased if I were their guest at Makaika’s weeding, I didn’t hesitate any moment to confirm the generous invitation. How lucky I am – being invited to a lovely Zambian wedding of two lovely Zambian friends.
Chibesa and Makaika’s welcome in Zambia was unbelievably warm from the very beginning. Even though the two were very busy with all the final preparations for the wedding, they always found time to meet for dinner on weekends either in Lusaka’s famous Steakhouse or in one of the nice restaurants in the new shopping malls of Lusaka. They also introduced me to their friends. We had a lot of fun and I was also glad to enjoy a tasty and tender steak after a week of N’shima and fried rice with vegetables… 🙂
I was actually quite excited to be part of Makaika & Miyanda’s great day. Luckily, I wasn’t supposed to be dressed in a traditional Zambian dress. It definitely would have been an unforgettable event, but it just doesn’t look as great on my pale skin as when Zambian ladies wear the colourful dresses with the characteristic patterns. For men it is of course much easier anyway – as in Europe they just wear dark suits.
As Swiss as I am, I arrived straight on time at the church, just to find out that I was among the very first guests, apart from Chibesa and her lovely parents. Little by little relatives and friends were arriving at the church and the excitement was ever increasing – just to culminate when the beautifully dressed Makaika was driven to the entrance of the church. Everything would have been just perfect – yet there was no groom.
It is good to know that not only brides can be late. Although it seemed that everybody in the church was waiting as relaxed as no European could ever be, the guests started to check their watches as discretely as possible and to call the groom and his friends by phone. What an advantage that Zambian people have their cellphones always at hand – be it at church, at dinner or at business meetings… 🙂
With a slight delay of about half an hour, the wedding ceremony was finally ready to start. Most people in Zambia are very religious and take the wedding ceremony very seriously. Hence, the wedding in church involved many thoughtful words and solemn praying. It was just the end of the ceremony which was being celebrated very cheerfully with lots of clapping, shaking and ululating (the archetypal way of African cheering). After a photo shoot with as many cellphones as proper cameras we drove to a property with wonderful gardens where the barbecue ought to take place.
Yet, the service team was still placing chairs, decorating tables, installing sound and lights and furnishing the tent when we arrived. Although the guests were pouring in, the service team didn’t feel bothered or urged to rush. Although it probably took more than an hour until the barbecue was ready it didn’t trouble the atmosphere at all. The guests just looked for a shady place to sit and wait while everybody was cheerfully chatting and laughing. How relaxing it was, no anger, no shouting – something I so often experience here in Zambia. It just always works out somehow.
The same was true for the abundant barbecue later that day. People lined up as diligently as at a bus stop in Britain. No pushing, no rushing – I can’t claim that to be true at Swiss weddings. The barbecue was delicious, and I enjoyed the partying with the lovely bridal pair and their many guests immensely. The wedding was just great – with a lot of laughing, dancing and – of course – ululating… 🙂
A huge ‘Thank you’ to Makaika and Miyanda that I could be part of their great wedding day! I wish them all the best for the mutual path of life!