She sits across me in a black cotton dress and a white coat. The night is still young but the drinks have started taking their effect. She then starts talking to me about their Ugandan culture and the process of getting a wife from their land of Baganda kings. From her explanation, it all starts with a ‘Kukyala’ which, according to her is an informal introduction of the man to the lady’s family. During this function, terms of engagement are dictated in terms of dowry that needs to be paid and all. If the family is generous enough, the lady will is brought out by an aunt just to say hi to the prospective groom then whisked back to one of the 39 bedrooms that the mansion contains.
The second part of the ritual is the introduction meeting which happens few weeks after the ‘Kukyala’. This is the tricky part because several groups of covered up ladies are brought out and the man is supposed to select his bride from the group, by looking at the legs, which are the only body parts exposed.
At this part, I interject and ask what happens if someone chooses legs that don’t belong to the intended bride. I expect the answer to tell me that the guy will be chased away with all his family but apparently, that’s not the case. Apparently, that is an impossibility. There’s always a cheat code involved e.g. the intended bride will paint the nails differently or the man will have prior knowledge of where exactly she will be standing in the lineup. (Corruption and cheating is not only a Kenyan problem).
After selection of the bride, the real ceremony will commence with the guy being introduced to clan elders who will either give a green light to the wedding or a stop to it. This is dependent on so many factors, the guy’s clan of origin being key among them. Members of the same clan are not supposed to intermarry. That’s equitable to incest. I wonder if I even know my clan. Let me see a show of hands how many of you do.
If he ain’t a f*ckboy either, the wedding is given a go-ahead after 57 selfies. The final phase is a church ceremony which is the same as the one we do here- nothing much to write home about.
It’s getting late and the establishment is too quiet for a Friday night.
In a few minutes, we find ourselves on Waiyaki way headed to town. I am in the accompaniment of a colleague and J. Midnight finds us at an establishment in town. In the club, the good vibes flow like a virus, but a good one. There’s love in the air, everyone is all hyped up and ready to give us a good time. We opt to settle downstairs due to the fewer number of patrons and much more dancing space. She wants to ‘party’. She is dressed for it. We were famished so we ask for some chicken for the reason that she doesn’t do beef (her clan doesn’t allow it) after which we order drinks.
I sat back as I watch her dance the night away. I am drawn to her. I guess she reads my mind as she comes for me. Swinging her amazing body from side to side, she pulls my hand and I can’t resist the urge to grind.
I want to be part of the rhythm that she seems to possess a mastery of. I want to be part of her but from a different clan. Hehe. So I heed to my urges and stand up. With two left feet, all I can do is stand still and watch on. The music moves her like a puppet on strings. There is a sort of agreement between the beats and the way she moves her body. She moves in her dress like her hips were made to sway, the sequins catching the neon ball light that twirls above – launching every shade of the rainbow into the darkness outside. As the music changes from local to Ugandan, her body is moving like an uncoiling rope.
As I try to keep up, her awesomeness rubs off on me and the music now is a drug that brings me higher, higher until my mind buzzes with pure joy. I feel as if my soul will shine so bright my skin will start to glow. In her expressions, the night is too young, our limbs have so much energy we could dance for a millennium and then some more.
By this time of the night the place is so full that no one can see the dance floor, it’s wall to wall people dancing and letting everything else blow away. There’s no room for anymore but somehow J and I find a space that’s just for us. We’re all grins, we look like idiots and we don’t care. Inside we’re just happy, happy and more alive than we can ever elsewhere. I feel the part of me that’s really me come out to play, to feel the vibe and let my body go free. One moment, one brilliant feeling of togetherness suspended in time. In ten years I’ll still remember tonight, I love the introvert aspect of my life but I relish this crazy awesomeness.
I love every aspect of this night. In the blink of a moment, I let everything else become background noise and concentrate on not stepping on her another time. Once in a while, I whisper something into her ears and she bursts out into laughter. The speakers are loud but I hear every cord in her voice as the nightstands by and lets her have the moment. I want this to go on for eternity and so does she. Her lips tell me so.
What am I trying to say? She was on another level of amusing.