Our office was closed Thursday and Friday to allow people to travel to travel if need be, and practice their democratic right to vote. I came to be with The Man. If you ask me, I think or rather feel like the process will be peaceful, and M7 will win. Or ‘win’. In keeping with my decision not to do politics, I won’t elaborate. Of late though, I’ve felt like putting in my two cents regarding local politics, the broke gova that used USD 350m for the campaign, and the Uganda shilling that has depreciated more than 45% against the dollar since I’ve been here. Because? I pay taxes; 30% PAYE, 18% VAT on every item I buy in supermarkets (which is already about 15% more expensive that it would be in a Nairobi/Kenyan supermarket), and UGX 100,000 each year in infrastructure tax- the potholes in my hood were filled with soil and a thin layer of tarmac in the recent months. The National Social Security Fund requires that I contribute 5% of my gross salo to the fund, though to their credit, my employer matches that with 10% of my gross. So the rate of return on my savings is encouraging. I just hope won’t NSSF have gone burst by the time I leave or need the money.
Most of my Kenyan friends are either out of UG or have bought food to last them a couple weeks, ensured there is enough cooking gas, water, the cars tanks are full and generally done the kind of things you would have done if you were in Nairobi or some parts of Kenya in early 2008. I can’t blame us. I however think the dynamics are different in UG compared to Kenya in the sense that the two main contenders are from the same region, or largely, community though one is more liked by the Buganda Kingdom constituents than the other. Said Kingdom has 3 candidates in the race.
This was not meant to be a siasa post, as is the blog. In my personal life, things are going well. Last week I went to have my ruracio (that’s dowry) event dress made.
The ruracio is coming up in a couple of weeks, and I just finished informing my close cousins. It’s not a huge event since this is only the first, and sometimes it takes decades before you truly belong to the other family through an event (for lack of a better term) called ‘gutinia kiande’. Nothing has changed regarding the wedding. We are going to have a traditional marriage and then a civil deal to make sure we are both on equal standing regarding our rights in the marriage in the eyes of the state. The Man still thinks we should have a church wedding down the line, but as far as I am concerned, either the Christian and Civil marriage offer me the same rights, so there is no need for the other if one has taken place. At the same time, The Man thinks it is important to have a church wedding when we have the budget. In which case then, I feel like we should just let it remain a customary marriage till we have the church event. My parents are busy doing what they need to do to ensure that The Man marries me in proper Kikuyu customs. I’m excited about it. I was considering asking my mother to tell my father to ask the men who will be negotiating on behalf of our family to not have any fancy ideas of ripping of The Man and his family. But then my friends think if I chose the traditional route, I may as well go all the way and let things take their natural path. I even asked the man if it’s a good idea and he thought otherwise. He should know- as the only male child in his family, he has taken an important role in selling off a few of his sisters. This year has a lot of good things in store for us.
The dress: I went with a Kinyankore design. Why? Because the Kikuyu dresses I’ve seen don’t look appealing to me. I could have had the brown dress with beads and shells that I think of as the Kikuyu cultural dress, or a Maasai design in recognition of the fact that my grandmother came from there, but I didn’t have the time to get that done when I was home (Yes, even me, I have Maasai blood!). I also happen to like how Banyankore women look on their Kuhingira (the traditional marriage rite, they call it the give-away ceremony in English), with the beads on the head, cute earrings, and beaded gloves, and I decided to go with the look. Interestingly, the material I chose is closer to the Indian sari than anything. If anything, is there cloth that we can call Kikuyu or even African wear? In my opinion, no, just the style. When the tailor lady was taking my measurements, she was talking to me in Runyankore, because my colleague who took me there is Munyankore. She looked really good on her Kuhingira event, so I requested her to take me to her fundi. The fundi later learned that I’m Kenyan and Kikuyu and was asking me what our traditional dress is. I told her we don’t have one. When she asked what my ancestors used to wear, I told her animal skins. She laughed. In the small talk that ensued, she asked how many maids I will have for the event and when I said none, just two of my close friends and relatives, she looked astonished-because there was another lady whose Kuhingira attire she is making, who has 12 maids for the Kuhingira alone. Which will be followed by a church wedding with a different set of maids. I feel like most people in Uganda have two weddings-the traditional one, and the church one, sometimes held in consecutive days. Or maybe two large events. Which kinda explains all the mass text messages in November and December from friends and strangers alike: so-and-so invites you to her wedding/kwanjula/kuhingira meeting taking place on…….Last year I got one of those from a guy who helped move house with his truck when he was having his introduction ceremony in Busoga (community that lives between Bugisu in the East and Buganda in Central Uganda, around Jinja, just before you cross the Nile into Buganda). I think he sent the texts to everyone on his phonebook. I kinda just ignored them, but we later bumped into each other in a restaurant in Jinja, where he handed me my invitation letter and the budget. I asked a Muganda fiend why they have two large events, and he explained that usually, the church even is more inclusive when it comes to the grooms side.
That’s it for now. I need to be at work on Monday, but I’m thinking of chilling and watching for people’s reaction when results are announced on Sunday.
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