Hi…so did you miss me these past three weeks? Please excuse the silence—it’s just that I got caught up in a flurry of activity related to a cousin’s wedding. You know how weddings can be. But how so exciting! This wedding was particularly exciting for me because it was the first truly Tanzanian wedding I was attending in 18 years. On top of being a great opportunity to catch up with the Tanzanian side of my family, I was looking forward to this wedding because I knew it would offer me a chance to attend some typically Tanzanian wedding functions for the first time. Of particular interest to me was attending a Tanzanian bridal shower, known commonly as a kitchen party.
If you’ve not heard of Tanzanian kitchen parties before, basically, at these events a bride-to-be’s close female friends and relatives get together to “provide her with all the necessary qualities and material things she needs to be a proper wife to the man she is marrying“. On top of the gifts she receives, mostly household items (and of course kangas), the women present offer the bride advice on how to have a happy marriage based on their own marital experiences. Sounds harmless enough, right? Yes, except that I’d heard that kitchen parties, despite being an all-female affair, could turn extremely wild and racy. This, I wanted to see for myself!
A Tanzanian Kitchen Party
Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), my cousin’s kitchen party did not degenerate into any such thing. Still, it was very interesting to hear what advice the older, married women had to give on creating happy unions. One woman spoke about being free with praise for one’s husband. She advised the bride to be open with her husband and to tell him, for instance, what it was about him that had won her over during their courtship. That and to be generous with compliments. She encouraged the bride not to be shy about this and suggested that were she ever to feel shy, then she could resort to tools such as SMS to, for instance, tell her husband how well he had made love to her the previous night. 🙂
Another woman urged the bride-to-be to be hard-working in her new marital home and to participate actively in providing financially for her family. According to this woman, should the bride choose to be a stay-at-home Mom, then she could seek to do this through income generating activities that were possible to be carried out in her home, such as selling jams or raising poultry, instead of looking to her husband to be the sole financial provider for their family. Overall, it was quite a fun and interesting female bonding experience, very different from the only other bridal shower I had ever attended until then.
A Bridal Shower in Nairobi
The first bridal shower I ever attended (in Nairobi), differed from this kitchen party in many ways. For starters, the age group of the guests was a lot more limited. Attended only by the bride’s peers, the theme for this bridal shower was not the kitchen but the bedroom. The gifts at this first bridal shower consisted mostly of lingerie, bath products, and candles, while the conversation was geared more towards the attendees getting to know each other and celebrating the highlights of the couple’s relationship to date, instead of offering advice for the future. It was a wonderful experience and quite possibly the best female bonding session I have had—EVER!
Although I knew only two other women at the bridal shower when I first got there (and that’s counting the bride), I left the shower feeling that I had shared intimately with every woman present. Well, how could I not when even the introductions delved deep into the essence of each of our lives? These introductions were not the usual ones preceded by a person’s name and occupation. Instead, each woman was asked to introduce herself by sharing the following information about herself in the precise order listed: her most embarrassing moment ever, when she had been deflowered, her favorite food, her favorite color, her name (finally!), her occupation, and lastly, the happiest moment of her life.
As each woman told us about herself, the rest of the group interjected with questions and comments, many that led to conversations about topics universal to the feminine experience. What marked me most was the variety of experiences found in this small group of seemingly homogeneous women.
Now that I have shared a bit about my experiences at bridal showers, I would like to leave you with some information that you might find useful in your own lives. To find out more about interesting gift ideas to take to the next bridal shower you attend, check out Bridal Shower Gifts: 22 Saucy Ideas from The Knot. I found these suggestions simply ingenious!
That said, that’s it from me. I hope all is well in your respective corners of the world. If there’s something you’d like to share about bridal showers and/or kitchen parties, then as usual I’d like to hear all about it.
Until the next time,
Photo Credits: bridaltours.com.au;