#25 Peter Marries Peris

Saturday, August 13, 2011

#25 Peter Marries Peris

Peter Muigi, deputy principal at SFG, was a patient bridegroom today, when his wedding began at 11:30 am, having been scheduled for 10. 

I was even earlier, as Jecinta (p) had told me the time was 9.  I thought that was a bit early for a wedding anywhere and particularly when family was coming from far away and many guests depend on the vagaries of matatu schedules.  Guests generally stand outside the church until the bridal party arrives.  These young ladies shyly greeted me and were delighted to have their picture taken in front of the rose-covered arch through which the couple would enter the church.

The tradition here is that the bride must be fetched from her family home (hers was in Nakuru—1 ½ to 2 hours away) by the groom’s family.  She is accompanied by her family to the church.  However, when the distances are far and cars unpredictable, weddings are often delayed.  Here is Peter (left) with his best man.  He explained there had been a car breakdown (later Fr Kiriti told me there had been an accident and they were using his car).  Peter told me it would be another 45 minutes before the bride’s family would arrive, so Jecinta (p) and I decided to go to my house for some tea. 

When we came back we found the wedding had begun w/o the parents and a few of the bride’s attendants, but no matter.  It was a beautiful ceremony and a very happy couple.  The complete party arrived eventually, in time to fulfill their parts, which seemed to be a formal giving of the bride to the groom with all 4 parents participating.

Girls from SFG danced, the wonderful St Francis Xavier Church choir sang, there were roses everywhere, even petals  strewn in the aisle.

After the wedding part, the mass began, with Peter and Peris bringing the bread and wine to the alter, preceded by dancing girls and the attendants and followed by ladies of the parish who brought traditional gifts of bananas, potatoes and cabbages.

The mass was celebrated by 3 priests, all, I believe, former colleagues of Peter’s when he was in the seminary.  He left just a couple of years ago, right before he was to make the final decision.  He once told me it was a hard decision to leave, but he has not regretted it and I’m sure today he was GLAD!

The reception was held at SFG, which is about 10 kilometers from the church.  People who had no cars were transported in specially rented matatus or jammed into cars belonging to other guests.   The multi-purpose room, beautifully decorated with roses and pink and gray wall hangings.  The large and hungry crowd was fed generously with traditional foods—rice, potatoes mashed with green peas, so it looks light green, stew, ugali (it’s not a meal in Kenya without ugali), chopped cabbage, chapatis (fried bread) and sodas (it’s not a celebration in Kenya without sodas!) 

While the guests ate, the bridal pair was being photographed somewhere else.  Shortly they arrived, honking at the gate, where they were greeted by the groom’s  female friends and relatives.  They danced and whooped, teasingly slowing the car as it drove in.  Just as the B&G stepped from the car, the heavens let loose a true African downpour.  Someone produced an umbrella for the B&G, everyone ran back to the hall, but I had worn shoes I couldn’t run in and I’m not sure I could have run even in my Asics.  I was drenched.

I had worn my very best African dress and used Judy’s black shawl which she had kindly left for me.  My dress, the shawl and my hair were dripping.  And it was cold!  I knew if I stayed I would be deeply chilled, which wasn’t going to be fun, but how was I to get home?    Someone took pity on my poor shivering self and drove me back to the parish, where I put on every warm garment I have, which is not too many, made myself some hot tea and climbed into my bed.  Two hours later I awakened, warm and dry, evidently none the worse for the soaking, but sad that I had missed the party.  

A few years ago I had attended another wedding here and enjoyed seeing all the traditional dancing, presentation of gifts and other fun things.  I’m really bummed to have missed the best part, but there was no question of my staying.  I’ll just have to wait until next week when I’ll be Jecinta’s house guest, during the “tuitioning” at SFG, when students review the material they’ve studied for 2 terms before they begin the 3rd and last term of the year.  She will tell me all about it, but it won’t be the same as my having been there.

Friday I finished my 2 weeks of “tuitioning” at Ndingi.  It got better every day and by the end I felt quite good about the sessions.  The boys were very sweet, thanking me for having come.  Fr Kiriti tells me the kids I teach will always remember the mzungu who came to teach them math.  I would prefer to be remembered by what I taught rather than my skin color, and I think that will be remembered too.

I haven’t written about the 3rd workshop I gave, this time at the Pastoral Center in Nakuru.  It was the one promised me by the bishop.  Schools in the area were required to send 1 math teacher each and it seemed that some were not all that pleased to spend a day of their holiday listening to a gray-haired mzungu lady.  However, as I talked I could see the change in body language, facial expression and attention.  By the end, they were very engaged, not just in the calculators, but perhaps even more in the challenges I set them to think outside the box, be more independent, allow their students to be more creative in their thinking, delete the tedious, boring parts of the curriculum, discuss and share with colleagues (not too common here) and to try to effect modernizing changes in the KCSE, which drives the curriculum as well as the teaching.  It’s a message I have presented every time I’ve done a workshop and will continue to push.

At the end, when I asked for comments, several teachers spoke, saying they agreed and wished I could talk to the big honchos who set the curriculum and the exam.  I wish I could too, but I don’t know how to do that.  There is always next year!


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