Last Saturday, I attended a wedding of a niece in Mbarara town , western Uganda. Mbarara is about two hundred and sixty five kilometres from Kampala, the capital city of Uganda.I have not been to this place in over two decades so as expected, it has changed beyond recognition. From Wikipedia I have learned that Mbarara is the fastest growing town in Uganda today and among the top five fastest growing towns in Africa! It was a relief to see a few of the old landmarks like: the Agip Motel, Mbarara, the Bank of Uganda offices and the Mbarara University of Science and Technology. They helped me to get my bearings once again.
The church service was held at Saint James Cathedral, Ruharo. We the elders dressed in our flowing traditional attires and the men in suits, mingled freely with the young dressed in the latest seasonal collection as we waited for the service to begin.
The young groom looked at his best in a grey suit, white shirt and pink tie, surrounded by his four groom’s men.
My heart skipped a beat as the proud father walked his angelic daughter to the aisle followed by two pretty flower girls in white and four bridesmaids in peach.
With child-like excitement, we all sang the wedding hymns with gusto. By the time the couple said “ I do,” with focused determination to each other, I could not help but get emotional. The Bishop’s sermon was short and to the point: putting God first in their marriage if they wanted it to last and then following it up with love, respect and open honest communication with each other.
Two hours later, the newlyweds , a picture of joy, enjoyed a relaxed lunch with their guests at Wagga Resort, Mbarara. They could not have chosen a better place. It is a magical place full of trees, shrubs, manicured lawns and uneven stone drives and walkways. There are orchards of oranges, guavas, tangerines, lemons, graviola(soursop) and a variety of palm trees. Tall, green trees mark the boundary of the place. Dotted among these are a number of red-tiled holiday cottages.
About seven snow-white medium –sized tents decorated with roses and carnations accommodated us while a live band played the most popular wedding songs of the time.
The trees, the shrubs, the stones and wooden fences reminded me of the farms of the well-to-do in Nyeri central Kenya in the early 90’s. I used to attend training and workshops in contraceptive technology in Nyeri and each evening the organisers would arrange for the group of doctors from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania to be hosted by one family. I used to be mesmerized by the richly furnished homes , the big gardens and orchards!
Interestingly, I seemed to be at one such place that evening. Over time, I have learned that when I am in such an Alice in Wonderland place, I just relax and soak in all its beauty. I become part of the beauty and this helps to define my place in the universe.
Similarly, my brain switched off everything else and was just in the moment. Being among family and friends in such a beautiful place, celebrating the union of a young couple whose eyes and body language exuded genuine love for one another; I remembered in piercing detail a day like this some thirty-seven years ago! We the parents and most of our friends had added thirty seven years to our lives. We had been changed by the years but we were still young at heart. Noticeably absent were our parents and in particular the grandmother of the bride who passed away a few months back. It was comforting to note that our continuity lay in our sons and daughters now dressed to the nines and accompanied by their well-groomed spouses and equally smart young children.
The bride later changed into a floor-length pink party dress and a silver tiara. She looked effortlessly beautiful holding on to her Prince Charming. In the brief speeches that followed, friend after friend and sibling after sibling talked of the groom’s steadfastness and dependability and the bride’s love and concern for others. No doubt each one had found ‘the Beloved of their Soul’. As they stood beside each other to give their speeches, they looked to be a winning team ready to face the world together. Relaxed, happy and confident, they took to the floor to dance the first dance and thereafter a lot of laughter and surprises followed.
By the time we the elders left at 9pm, my emotional battery had been recharged to the full. It would last me to the next family wedding in August. We left the young to dance the night away on this big day.
All in all, I was so glad that I had been part of this great celebration. My silent prayer was that the couple would live to share in all the blessings that marriage can bring.
Mignon McLaughlin says:“ A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.’’
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