Saturday, 18 October 2014

Day 4/7 The craft of being an Omwogezi

Every event has its perks and draw backs and one of the few perks to enjoy from a traditional wedding ceremony (Okwanjulo) is the spokesmen (Omwogezi). 

There is the manner in which they entertain the guests while sticking to the schedule and making even the most persistent of requests seem coy as child’s play and bearable. 

I have been fortunate to attend about 4 traditional marriage ceremonies this year for family members in a span of 3 months, yes 3 months so I am on quite the over load.
At one of them I was fortunate to be on the guest side of the muko (groom) and when we arrived; we were paraded in front of the guests for about 15minutes up until our spokesman delivered 3 bible readings and answered a series of local dialect idioms to the satisfaction of his counterpart on the opposite side. This trend dragged on for the better part of the function until it got to point of the identification of the bride where I suppose he could not take it anymore and out of the blue he began to cough.

Spokesman: ‘Eh, sorry so what was I saying,’ he muttered on as he coughed violently.

Our spokesman: ‘Ah you asked the senga (the bride’s aunt who usually identifies the groom) if she knows us and if she knows why we are here.’

Spokesman: ‘But you have not loosened my tongue,’ he uttered softly as he continued with the program.

Our spokesman dispatched his assistant hastily to bring 1 gourd of the local brew known as Tonto that we had brought with us to oil the spokesman’s wheel. At the back of my head I was thinking, couldn't he simply say he wanted the alcohol so we could move forward? But no he had to be all theatrical and cough violently over and over as if he was short of breathe and about to pass out.

There is also another aspect that bothered me – the fact that that they advertise their services to the public in the middle of the most intimate point of the function whether it be the exchange of the engagement ring or in between the parents speeches.

Spokesman: ‘Announcement, announcement I would like to inform you that if you that if you would like to hire me I belong to the ..... group. To contact us on our services for functions, please take down this number so that we can assist you.’  ‘Now please let me clarify this - do not call me a week to the function because you may not fit into my calendar schedule because you know very well this is a very busy time of the year for functions.’ 

‘This is so that you do not say I let you down or I disappointed you and ruined your function; you know we have to do this properly so call me about a moth to the function so I can check my book. But if I cannot handle your function, we are many in the company and I can get you someone else who is available and will make sure that you have a very enjoyable function.’

I thought to myself, wow this man is very bold and self assured to say this in front of about 300 people. But with no notice and with only a pause he continues only a moment later with his line of conversation.

Spokesman: ‘So I can perform at traditional marriage functions, graduations, parties and everything of that nature.’ ‘I can do it all, but wait ......,’ he said as he paused briefly.

‘When it comes to funerals, I do not take part. I say this because I have been asked by a couple of people to officiate and I have failed to accept it is the only function I do not perform at.’

Now when I heard this I thought to myself, this sure is a performance from the coughing to the bible reading and idioms it was all an act and much as we are a very animated bunch of people how much is too much. Is there a point where we draw the line because in this instance, the traditional marriage ceremony went over the designated time? 

This was because he took too long badgering us for local brew which we had already brought, to competing with his fellow spokes person from our side to see who was technically better at performing at these functions.
I thought to myself what happened to the small, quiet visits to the girl’s home to have an intimate understanding of the values from where your better half originates. 
Or I am too traditional and spoiling all the glitz and fun fare involved in today’s display of affection at these events.

I am open to your opinions.

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