November seems to be a wedding month in Nairobi. I am not sure why. It is spring, but that means it rains a bit.
Saturday we went to the wedding of Eventino, the worship leader my mother wrote about. The wedding was in the church in Kawangware, and the chickens were there as well, the rooster even made a ruckus every time the “pre-wedding singers” had any sort of lull.
We were told the wedding was at 11AM and I was a bit upset we were about 15 minutes late. It was fine, but it was a good thing we did not arrive much later because then seating would have been an issue. They always want to give good seating to the wazungu (white people). We found the back seats of the “guests of honor” section. Then we waited, for about 2 hours. Petr and I found some entertainment in watching two circles of sunlight pass over his body from two nail holes in the mabati (corrugated iron sheets) roof. They move a long way in 2 hours, 30 degrees.
When the wedding party did arrive, it got quite interesting. When it was time for the bride to come in, the ladies in the wedding party came in very slow, maybe that was normal, but what followed clearly was not on the program. There seemed to be some hold up at the door, and then the Emcee asked a bunch of the pastors to go out the door to help. I had a bit of trouble following what was going on, since it was all in Swahili.
We later found out that the parents of the bride refused to allow her to enter the church until they received more money. This was something of a breach of etiquette because the man had already agreed on a price with the parents months before. Apparently they had second thoughts.
After the wedding, Pastor Benson relayed to us what had happened, and how he went out there to resolve the issue. He was lamenting the cultural hurdles so many people have to go through to stay within God’s will in Nairobi. Many people, especially in the slums, never get married because they cannot afford to pay the parents. Because there are not too many arranged marriages in the city, the parents of the girl really have the guy in a jam. He loves her, he would be willing to sacrifice the world for her, and the parents know it. In the end, they usually just live together.
It got me to thinking about it. I had had a conversation earlier that day with Ken, my kinyozi (barber), who was telling me of a South Sudanese man he had just had in his chair. He is 56, and he just bought his sixth wife, for 100 cows. That is a huge price, in Nairobi equivalent to almost $14,000 (where a daily wage is $5.33). I wonder how he felt toward his wife, and if she upset him, does he think, “You know, I paid 100 cows for you…”
I began to think of what a mess the whole bride price was. But then I realized, Christ paid the highest price for His bride. And, we the church, ought to realize the great price that was paid for us in love, and respond in love back to Him.
What God created, man’s selfishness has corrupted.