I am going to a wedding this weekend. In the city. Nobody weds Anybody on Saturday at 10.00 am at the Glory Outreach chapel, and I happen to be invited. I was actually part of this wedding preparation Whatsapp group, where I just followed stuff silently. [Sheria people, Daisy, Pamela, give me a term like ‘pro bono’ for a person who follows Whatsapp proceedings without making contributions, financial and otherwise]
Anyway, Anybody and Nobody did send us a list of items they would like as gifts, and where we can get them. Once you pick an item, you cross it out so no one else picks the same item. That way, they won’t end up receiving six TVs and not a single TV rack on the big day. Logical, isn’t it?
Except I won’t be taking any of the listed gifts.
Because that is taboo where I come from, in the slopes of The Seven Great Ridges.
Let me explain.
Many years ago, we used to do it like it is done today, back in the village. Anyone with a wedding would list what they wanted, and we would deliver gladly on their big day, in song and dance. Except there were no fridges and washing machines back then, so we used to gift newly-weds with farm animals, sofa sets and solar panels.
Until one day, Njove’s wedding.
When Njove’s list of preferred wedding gifts came out, it was one of the weirdest things we had ever seen. Not a single item of your usual wedding gifts. No sofa set, no goat, no cupboard, no table, no mattress.
The only thing which looked wedding-ish on the list was ‘Two Atlas or Avon bicycles.’
The rest of the list read 1-bale baking flour- Uncle Munyi, 1- bale jogoo flour- Tata Maria, 50kg- rice- Cúcú Gorreti, 50kg cooking fat- Úmau Múgo and such like bizarre stuff.
The Ridges were thrown into confusion. Why would a man want such gifts, we wondered. It was discussed in numerous fora, from house-mudding to bean-whipping, but no one could come to a logical conclusion about it. Eventually, we agreed that Njove was a ‘greedy, short sighted fool,’ who was solely guided by his stomach. His wife-to-be, Peni, short for Peninah, also agreed as much, but could not speak much, as it was custom for would-be-brides to show a certain mannerism in those days.
That said, however, we had a strict village culture of never knocking a comrade down from their pedestal, so we let Njove be.
And we bought the gifts, every one of them, as outlined. The two bicycles were bought by combined effort, one by the bride’s family and the other by Njove’s own family. Njove’s outdid themselves by going beyond the stipulated Avon and Atlas to get him a Phoenix bike, complete with two top tubes (míkon’gori)
And the wedding came to pass as one of the weirdest ever. You see, our wedding songs were tailored to say specific things about our conventional gifts, like how ‘we are giving you this bed because [insert your mother’s name here] is a woman of class and we don’t want her to be born on a mat. Naughty fellaz, those villagers of mine!
So you can imagine the creativity it took to do ‘covers’ of those songs to cater for Njove’s weird choice of gifts, yes? Like, ‘we want you to eat this ugali and be a warrior, because your father is a warrior and we don’t want a weakling named after him.’
Suffice to say Njove was largely elated to see the gifts trickle in. He wore a certain smile, one I have over the years learned to define as ‘goofy.’ The same cannot be said of Peni, who appeared embarrassed throughout the entire ceremony. To his credit, Njove was able to cheer her up significantly when they disappeared for an hour- or so, no one was counting- during the after-party.
The wedding weekend over, we settled back to our normal lives and waited to watch Njove fall from his greedy pedestal.
Except he didn’t.
The immediate week after the wedding Njove used to teach Peni how to ride a bike. You can call it honeymoon, because they were like kids all week, holding and helping each other up, and shouting at each other then making up.
On the second week, we were surprised to see a lorry drive into Njove’s compound, and pack all his gifts in it. As it drove away, Njove hopped onto his bike, Peni onto the other and followed. That was around noon.
Later that afternoon, handwritten fliers and posters started appearing at different points within the villages of The Ridges:
‘Welcome to NjoPeni Foodstuff and General Stores. Located at Jasho Building, Kararerí. For the best prices for your household goods.’
Ayayayayayaya! Njove, what have you done to us? You mean you used us to set up a business!
Word spread fast of Njove’s ‘betrayal,’ but there is nothing like negative publicity. People were raving that Njove had done wrong, but I was of the opinion that we had given him the best gift ever, a steady start to an economically independent life. Not that all that prevented customers from trooping to NjoPeni’s fair priced store.
Lakini watu unawaita kina nani?
Needless to say, the culture of choosing wedding gifts died an instant death. I don’t think it should have died though, or do you?
So I am not taking any listed gift on Saturday, not because I think it’s bad, but because, you know…mwacha mila.
Blame it on Njove, the most prominent businessman on the Seven Ridges today.
What is your take on wedding gifts? Tell us in the comments section below.
Meanwhile, enjoy these glorious wedding videos: [Source: YouTube]
Lakini hii hapana: