First, and introduction ceremony is sort of like a huge engagements/meet the parents party. In the old days, the tradition was that the lady was bringing the man (for the first time) to meet her side of the family. He brings his whole side of friends and family as well. Traditionally, after the introduction the couple was then deemed as married-- though this is no longer the case with more modern couples and Christians. It is now just an official way for both sides of the family to say that the couple has their blessing to proceed in marriage.
Last week I had the privilege to attend Pamela's introduction ceremony. Pam is our clinical officer at LCH and has become a good friend of mine. This is her fiance Alex.
Pam was giddy a whole 2 weeks leading up to the event.
These are some of my co-workers and I, waiting for the grooms side to arrive. The appropriate attire for an introduction ceremony is the traditional gomas (the dresses with the pointy shoulders).
I also was able to bring my housemates along. They have never been to an introduction before, so we had fun getting all "africanized" in our fancy outfits. This was probably my 6th introduction to attend, and of all of them, Pam's was the best because the majority was in English. The MC for the Pam's side gave each of us local names and referred to us many times during the ceremony by our new names. Mine was "Adongo", meaning blessing (after having had twins).
The whole fun of the introduction is the friendly banter that goes on between the spokes-man for the lady and the man's side. As with customary Ugandan tradition, the man's side arrived late. Though the invitation said 1pm, they didn't show up until around 2:30pm. After paying a "fine" for being late, Alex's side proceeded in through the arch and remained standing until they were invited to sit down as Pam's guests.
Through more discussion between the MC's, we learn that Alex's side has come looking for a special lady that Alex would like. The MC for Pam's side says that he will call all the ladies of this house and they can point out which lady it is.
This was the first group of potential ladies that Alex is looking for.
Obviously Pam is not in either group, so they call out the third group, being the older aunties.
And then finally, the fourth group, where Pam is at the back of the line.
The MC for Alex is looking carefully at each lady to see if the right one is there. And sure enough, she is. The lady that they have come for.
So the Aunties of Alex came with a basket of flowers to tell Pam that they have come on behalf of their "son" Alex to say that she is special and he would like to marry her. Pam accepted :)
Then the aunties to Pam go into the side for Alex in search of the young man that is seeking the hand of their "daughter" Pam. They look through the whole crowd.
Then Pam is asked if this is the one and is brought to see Alex for the first timeThere is some more friendly banter between the MCs of both sides and then Pam come out in a different outfit for the second half of the ceremony. She is the one looking down in green.
Alex waiting on his couch under the tent for his family.
A preacher comes up and they gives rings to one another as a token of their commitment to one another and then the cake is cut.
It is tradition here that the person in celebration (whether introduction, wedding, or birthday) is the one to serve cake to all their guests.
I was able to jump into a photo with these beautiful ladies.
The introduction ceremony is also the time when the man's side brings the dowry and gifts for the family of the bride-to-be. So the members from Alex's side went to the cars to collect all the gifts they had brought for Pam's parents and relatives.
As the gifts come, it is tradition for the lady to just look on- somehow seeing her worth to the man.
Where Pam is from, it is customary to give 7 cows and 7 goats as dowry. Then there are gifts added onto that dowry. Gifts range from bags of sugar, to crates of soda, to suitcases, to baskets of fruits and vegetables, to couch sets, to fridges, to lanterns, to the thigh of a cow (like shown below)
After gifts for the bride's family, they give out whole cakes to the important parties, like parents of each, the pastor, and even LCH got a cake.
Alex, Pam, and me
The kids and teachers with PamOverall, it was a wonderful day. We had lots of fun, and ate a huge feast at the end of the day. We are all eager to attend her wedding.