Traditional Swazi Wedding

I traveled to South Africa this past weekend to join my Swazi friends at a wedding. It was quite the wonderful experience! I learned a few good lessons though…

1) Never travel alone with a bus full of Swazis if you want to be on time. Again…I am learning patience. It was such a loooong trip, but well worth it. There were about 20 of us total in the bus to SA. They were mostly made up of gogos and makes (grandmothers and mothers) and a few people my age. We had a few problems at the border…someone had one of the gogo’s passport and was already in SA and another man’s passport had just expired a few days earlier. Luckily, he talked them into letting him through (bribed them).
2) I need to learn SiSwati. I now know what it is like to feel alone in a crowded room. I was totally lost all weekend because they all spoke SiSwati all the time, and I never knew what was going on. So I’m trying to learn from a book…but it is so hard.
3) Do NOT ask what food is on your plate. I made this mistake on Saturday night. Friday night was a more westernized-wedding, where the bride wore the white dress, there were bridesmaids and groomsmen, etc…but Saturday they had a traditional celebration (more on that later). So after the traditional celebration I was so hungry because we hadn’t hardly anything all day. I got in line to eat and they served us pap (like a malt-o-meal-ish thing), spicy beans, meat, a weird kind of bread (I didn’t ask about that…I just ate it.), and more meat-ish… My friend Ncobile laughed when she saw me poking around things on the plate. I was really trying not to be rude, so I was trying hard to look like I wanted to eat it; but she saw right through me. “I dare you to eat everything on your plate,” she laughed. That’s when I knew I was eating something weird.
“Okay, what IS this?” I pointed to the meat-ish thing (that I had already taking a bite of and found it very slimy and hard to chew).
“MK, those are the insides of a cow,” the bride told me matter-of-factly. “It’s good!”
“Oh…” I smile. Suddenly, my stomach is not growling anymore. But I kept eating. For those of you who know me…I can be quite the picky eater. I ended up finishing everything on my plate…except…the cow intestines. I tried, I really did. I ate another two bites after I found out what it was, but on the third forkful, I started gaging and couldn’t swallow it. I looked around to make sure no one was watching me and (I know this is so bad…but I thought better out of my mouth now than puking it out later) I spit it into my hand. But hey…at least I can say that I tried cow intestines now.
The wedding itself was awesome. The bride is from Swaziland and the groom from South AFrica, so they had this Swazi-Zulu battle thing with song and dance. It was so neat. At one point the Zulu people come and “kidnap” the bride (who the Swazis were “hiding”) and take her to the Zulu side…then the Swazis come and take both the bride and groom… and it goes back and forth like that.
It was a neat experience. The gogos even had me put on the traditional Swazi cloth and loved that I looked “Swazi.”
Also, since meat is such a delicacy here…on Sunday, they had meat for breakfast…meat for lunch…both with the new “inlaws.” Now, when I say meat… I mean like fresh off the bone with lots of fat. Again, I couldn’t be picky so I ate some meat I probably would not have before. And I am paying for it today because I have a bad tummy ache along with the runs. Oh, and to make matters worse, our water is out at the house today.. NOT a good time to NOT be able to flush the toilet when you have the runs. Speaking of which…

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