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The Contrast of Tswana Weddings

The Contrast of Tswana Weddings
February 26
09:31 2018

I have been in this planet long enough to make some observations that usually only take credence in journal articles. Despite wealth playing hide and seek with me, it continues to fascinate me. One of the many things I enjoy, is watching the behaviours of people and their interaction with material wealth. Sometimes this life can be confusing, especially when you’re still young. Unless you are very assuming and quick to own your environment, a young person may be unsure about whether their family is wealthy or poor. But if you are in doubt about the social standing of your family, take the litmus test. Try to get married and you will get a clear perspective.

Usually when you want to get married, you will discuss that with the person you want to marry. This is very important, especially for men. You see, a lot of us men often exaggerate and overestimate our value to the women in our lives, especially during the dating phase. We often convince ourselves without consultation, that the women in our lives want us to marry them. Wait until you discover that you were only accompanying the smart lady on her journey to her true dream lover!

But for the sake of progress, let’s assume that there are no hidden agendas and the two love birds are headed in the same direction. Usually the average couple, with a reasonable understanding of mathematics will have a good idea of the type of wedding they can afford. A couple can realistically decide that they will just sign for their union with minimum noise due to resource constraints. This educated decision is usually perfect for the two, until it reaches the ears of the ever-anticipating family members. This is where your social standing will be revealed to you for the first time, albeit in a way you could have never imagined.

You see, for wealthy people, hosting a wedding is no big deal because usually the venue, if it’s the family house, is already in proper shape. If they choose the golf course, it’s only a quality of life decision. It is about things like fresh air and the freedom to take a stroll across the lawn while puffing at a cigar, with whisky glass in hand on the wedding day. But on the other side of reality, announcing your wedding plans is tantamount to being awarded a zero budget project to renovate the family home and get it ready for the guests.

The differences between these realities are stark to the point of unbelievable. Often the bride and groom’s fathers at a wealthy wedding will stroll together and discuss which schools they went to. Back at the garden, the mum in-laws will similarly be talking about their two babies turned adults. They may even pull out the old family album and start reminiscing. Meanwhile, at the opposite wedding, the couple’s parents will be sitting miles apart and even scared to glance at each other for just a second. To call the interaction between the two a taboo will be an understatement.

Even as the poor idolize the wealthy, they only emulate them through material play acting. Poor people’s weddings are all about make-believe. The weddings are organized around false images that often leave the new couple heavily indebted. Years later, the couple’s children often cannot help wondering what happened to their parents’ wealth. The poor kids would of course not know that what they see in pictures only lasted one day, and was meant to impress people they will never even meet. Relatives in the not-so-well to do families can even turn to instant enemies because of disagreements on how dramatic the acting should be. Arguments often range from how big the tent should be, who is the proper uncle, all the way to who holds the keys to the fridge? This is where family ties are strengthened or broken, often the latter.

Meanwhile, up in the suburbs it’s an open bar with mixologists doing their thing and serving drinks of all colours and in all glass shapes. Nobody cares where the tent came from or who paid for it. Everyone is allowed to dance and they do dance across the age divide. At the end of the event, nobody leaves the venue staggering with a bulging black plastic bag. Nobody has to, because nobody deserves compensation for washing all the dishes. Even the rare uninvited guest knows how to behave despite the potent exotic liquor. It’s a world of parallels and it’s here to stay.


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