The Weekend That Was


Sema kuchoka. Yesterday was a big day for mum and dad. 25 years down the line, they were at my cucu’s (mum’s mum) for ngurario or gutinia kiande. Relax, I will proceed to tell you what the ceremony involves and why I could not write about it yesterday. It is basically the last ceremony in the dowry paying process. 

This Saturday event had been planned for days. Mum and dad visited people, called people and bought things. Trips to cucu’s were made prior to the day. Sodas were ferried. Lesos were bought. Meetings were held. I am telling you if this is what awaits me in a few years, I have no idea if I will hack it. Or rather, if my husband will. You know Kikuyus are known to have dropped most of their traditions, but this one sticks, I believe with modifications here and there. (Kikuyu words will be italicized herein.)

The day came and everyone in the house was bright and early except Shiku. Lol. I told you I do not wake up early on Saturdays. Today I will not sensationalize my morning but I will jump right into the ceremony matters. Mum left earlier in the morning. We went as ‘guests’ much later. The good thing about initiating this ceremony when you are all fat and settled down in life is that you get lots of friends to accompany you. Friends with families, friends with resources, friends who have seen you through the thick and thin of adulthood. All these folks accompanied dad to the bowels of Limuru.

When I say bowels, I mean Kinyogori. Never heard of it? Kinyogori is some kilometres away from Limuru town. To get to cucu’s home, you go through a winding dust road past Bata Shoe Factory and up into the deep of the village. You really cannot give people directions to the place. You can only wait for folks, receive calls and hope everyone gets there on time. That’s what went down. We waited for people to catch up with the convoy until about 13:00. I am not sure what happened when people got to the gate (thome) since I had gone back to give some other people direction but when I arrived, everyone was already in queuing for food. There was definitely singing at the gate, that one I can ascertain.

For some reason, I guess traditional, the men had two camps for the goat roasting. One by men from dad’s side, and the other from mum’s side. These traditions. The gist of the ceremony began when mum and some other women were wrapped in lesos and paraded for dad to pick her out. Easy-peasy job. How do you not know the woman you have spent 25 years with? He picked her out in seconds, hugged her even before unveiling her, amidst ululations from the women. The problem with this setup is when it happens with young people like me. How is my future hubby supposed to pick me out from other disguised girls? I really hope he will have it figured out when time comes.Ngurario

Then came the meaty part. Apparently every part of the goat meat has a significance in the ceremony. For instance, there was the matu (ear) symbolizing how the wife should listen to the husband and should be eaten with her fellow single ladies in the neighbourhood and the mbaru or ikengeto, guoko/kiande symbolizing the whole gutinia kiande (cutting shoulder) deal. A wife should cast her burdens on hubby’s shoulder. There were other parts like higo (kidneys) and ini (liver) which mum and dad took turns to feed each other. You can be assured that most of it was too difficult Kikuyu for me to grasp. Plus the gray-haired man conducting the ceremony was incoherent for most part, in my ears. I did grasp this much and for that, clap for me. Karuheni!

Next in line, ‘girls’ from mum’s side offered dad some porridge (ucuru wa gukio), complete with a towel (like a sort of baby feeder). You know that white fermented porridge that is made from grounding maize. This is not supposed to be easy. ‘Girls’ from dad’s side are supposed to reject it until him and his ‘girls are finally satisfied. This is what they did to the porridge in calabashes. Smh. What a waste of good porridge.

Ucuru wa gukio

After a lot of cooing, wooing and booing, mum managed to brush his shoes and serenade him. Ha! Hilarious. Their couple friends also had to feed their hubbies. Eventually everyone else had their fair share of meat, porridge, tea and whatnot. Man, people can eat. I have no idea how they do not have bad tummies the next day. Did I mention that sodas were also brought in, in song and dance, which the very same people drank away immediately? Did I also mention that it was hinted that my parents were doing this as an indication that there would be a wedding in the household soon and they did not want to be held back by anything? If you do not get what I am driving at, consult a Kikuyu nearest to you. Ahem.

Meanwhile, I was walking around in my high heels, knowing that I would be disabled later on. I could hardly wake up today morning. But I had to because I had duties to meet. Needless to say, I forgot a scarf at a restaurant and a flash disk at a cyber café where the guy charged me Ksh 20 per page for a print job. I was like, Are you kidding me? When did the cyber café people start ripping people off like this? The last time I printed anything for a charge was in university, where printing was very cheap. Man, I need to step out of my cocoon more often and experience real life. Also, the kange on the 2 KR 105 bus I boarded decided he was not going to give my change back. Hell hath no fury than a woman scorned by a man shorter than herself. I almost downed him right there in the bus before I alighted. I literally snatched a five shilling coin from his hand. By the way, I am not exaggerating. I can be feisty when pushed.

Anyway, I am cutting this long story short because it is Sunday and I need to be up early tomorrow. It is at such ceremonies that you learn how beautiful marriage can be. You appreciate that while it is not easy, it is worth the work. You want to live up to the standards set by your folks. You also question what tradition is and what is not. For instance, there were no sodas in the past, so what exactly was brought in its place? Probably muratina. When my turn comes, we will see how well I have been learning from my folks. Have a lovely week, lovely people!

4 thoughts on “The Weekend That Was

  1. Hehehehe…. This is, nice are you sure you would like to perform this ritual ,the question is will be relevant or carry the same weight thinking!!!!!

  2. Hahaha nice one Shiku. I really like these Kikuyu wedding rituals.. You didn’t tell us whether the 2 final steps in the dowry process were completed; “Kuheo certificate ya kuguraria” and “Kuingira kuracia” (Giving dowry). If they were, then the way is clear…. let him start the process. “Kumenya Mucii” and “Kuhanda Ithigi” Ahem!

    1. Lol! I obviously was not involved in the negotiations so I would not know most of those details. You look like someone who knows these traditions better! Are you sure you did not just make up that certificate? Kwani there were certificates kitambo?

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