For a long time he was looking forward to it. Mfaume – our Greystoke kitchen chef – had long ago proposed to marry his beautiful wife Hadija. This weekend finally was the day and in all Mfaume’s enthusiasm he invited not only the Greystoke staff, but all of our guests too!
It’s not every day that you have the chance to go to a traditional Tongwe wedding. All of us were so excited. Everybody dressed up and together with Eric, Dick, Rod, Munira, Thomas and Caroline we set sail to Katumbi Village, a 2 hr boat ride from Greystoke Mahale.
The Katumbi welcoming committee.
Traditional and truly Tanzanian, this lakeshore village is worth a visit anytime. Reached only by the water, no roads connect Katumbi to the rest of Tanzania. We could already spot the festivities from water! As we boarded the shore within seconds a children’s committee welcomed us. Like in all rural places in Tanzania, any visitor gets the treatment of a true guest. Super welcoming and full of joy, the news of us setting foot ashore rapidly spread through the village.
Crowds around the house of the newlyweds.
As we walked down to the house where the wedding was about to take place, the crowds became thicker and thicker. The whole social side of village life quickly became apparent to us. So fantastically colorful and so warm a reception we were given, we felt humbled by it all.
Seats lined up in front of Mfaume.
For us a number of seats had been lined up right in front of the house of Mfaume. The newlyweds were about to come out of the door straight across from us and in between us a big dance floor was created.
The wedding music system.
To one side a huge set of boxes was playing local and Tanzanian songs. Mixed by a DJ and played at a super loud volume, Mfaume and Hadija were praised at every possible option in between.
Once the couple came out of the front door they initiated the dancing. Everybody – in the mean time a 150 to 200 strong crowd – erupted in a loud cheer!
Finally Mfaume and Hadija came out and danced!
Hadija and Mfaume danced and danced, having the whole dance floor to themselves. Once they had intitiated the dancing others joined and the place was brimming with joy. All the children watched in awe how one day this also would be part of their lives. Even the surrounding trees were full of people, climbing up in the hope to catch a share of the action!
The cake ceremony
Then came the cake ceremony. Little pieces of cake were cut off and fed to guests by the bride under loud cheering of the crowd. The experience for all of us – being invited to be even part of the cake ceremony – was just too good to be true!!
Thomas ready to bite a piece of cake!
Dancing, laughing and full of positivity the new bride fed al her guests pieces of the cake.
Suzanne cheering with Mfaume and Hadija after a bite of the cake
After that people danced to particular songs that were dedicated to the couple. As we all couldn’t believe it was time for us to leave for camp again, all of us would have loved to stay around to the late hours. The evening program was watched and participated in by most of our staff from Greystoke, until the very late hours!
Trees filled with spectators in the back!
Getting out of camp and experiencing what Tanzanian life really is all about should be part of everybody’s itinerary. What a true Tanzanian experience it was for all of us.
Thanks Mfaume, thanks Hadija! And good luck to you!
Mfaume and Hadija