Beryl Wanga Itindi, Standard Media, December 9, 2019
With more people embracing diversity, intermarriages are becoming common. Dating or marrying outside your tribal or racial lines is a great way to accommodate and learn about people. Were it not for intermarriage, some issues would remain uncovered especially when it comes to cultures and traditions. However, some traditions are just shocking, especially to new comers.
At 35, I have had enough years to set my foot in various places in this country and this has given me the chance to sample various cultures and experience their traditions. Some are funny, some are uncomfortable, others are scary while others are downright heartbreaking.
Back in the day when I was still perfecting my dating skills, I was in a certain relationship that lasted three months. Things started getting murky when he informed me that, as his prospective wife, I would be expected to undergo a tough examination by his relatives. At first, I thought he was joking until I got there and was subjected to one duty after another. This was to apparently test if I was strong enough to be their son’s wife!
Talk about running around with donkeys as I struggled to fetch water from a nearby seasonal river! It takes me several attempts just to walk past a cow. Now here I was, having to fetch water next to donkeys that were breaking my ear drums with their usual song!
As if that wasn’t enough, I was expected to go back to the homestead and do all the chores — from laundry all the way to harvesting cassava. I don’t even know how to plant cassava! By the time I left that homestead, I could barely feel my back. I got back home and because God gave me powerful lungs, I yelled and yelled at my man asking him why he didn’t step up and fight for me when his people turned me into a machine.
Instead of apologising, he gave me a full report of the ‘examination’. Unfortunately, even after working so hard, I had failed terribly because of the fact that I did all those chores while sulking! I mean, how was I supposed to do all that with a wide smile on my poor face? Anyway, long story short, he ended the relationship because his people concluded that I wasn’t fit enough to be his wife; sad that he believed them. I wish he knew! Anyway, his loss!
Something similar happened to my friend who went for a burial ceremony at her fiancé’s home. When night fell and they were about to sleep, she was told they all had to sleep in the main house with the doors wide open for the next seven days after the burial. Reason? The deceased spirit might want to make a visit and it would be rude if he found the door locked!
Let’s not even get to the point of locking a door because of spirits. We all know spirits can pass anywhere, even through an electric fence. My biggest fear would be, what exactly would the deceased spirit be coming back to look for in the house at night? And why seven days?
My friend being the good wife material she is, obliged and slept in that house with the door wide open. Had it been me, daughter of Itindi the Great, that’s the time I would go online and frantically start searching for the nearest hotel to spend the night. There’s no way I am going to spend the night in a house that is a potential destination for a spirit.
Another friend was made to serve her in-laws chicken during a function and she went on to serve it like any other person would. Little did she know it was a test. Apparently, there are specific chicken parts meant for the in-laws — from the eldest to the youngest — and they should be served in that order. I still don’t know how someone, a stranger for that matter, is supposed to know who the eldest and the youngest in-law was. Again, how is one supposed to know who eats the neck and who eats the back? If it were me, I would go back to the kitchen with the thigh!