Sunday, October 31, 2010

In which we experience some culture for once.

Yesterday, we went to a wedding in Pitseng, a village of about 1,000, about a one-and-a-half hour drive from Gabs. Our lovely Setswana teacher took us, as she has worked in the village there for several years, bringing groups of students from Ohio to experience cultural immersion in Pitseng. She is a friend of the bride and groom. Pitseng is a lot more rural than Gabs--no running water, and the kids immediately started staring at us weirdo white people.

(I attempt to win children over by photographing them.)

We definitely stuck out, which is a pretty unusual experience for us in Botswana. We do look pretty weird, I guess.

Anyway, over the course of five or six hours, we got a glimpse of what a wedding reception in Botswana is like--the bride and groom sit at a head table, with ceremonial bowls of various dried foods.

(The bride and groom bow their heads in prayer.)

Relatives and friends crowd around at long banquet tables.

(Please note the baby in the bottom right-hand corner. There were some seriously cute babies at this party.)

The reception was in a big (hot) tent. A and I inquired and it would actually be less expensive to get them to do the tent for our wedding than the tent company in Philly.

Everyone related to the happy couple is introduced by the emcee--even us! We tried to smile and look nonthreatening. When we were introduced to them, our Setswana teacher told us to say "Re itumetse," which means "We are happy/Congratulations." I got nervous and accidentally said "Ke itumetse," which means "Thank you!"

Someone gives a sermon--apparently about how you shouldn't beat your wife because a wife is a good thing to have--and reads from the bible. Various women perform religious songs. The groomsmen and bridesmaids do some impressive choreographed dances in the heat.

(They did the same dance over and over. It was like 100 degrees with no shade. The groomsmen were too cool for school with sunglasses, etc.)

There are many chickens nearby.

(I took a lot more pictures of chickens than people. There are fewer concerns of making a cultural faux pas.)

The food was quite good. One thing that's convenient for us pseudo-vegetarians is that none of the non-meat items are cooked with meat fat or flavoring. In fact, they're not flavored at all. Batswana seem to really enjoy bland food, except for the popularity of Nando's and Indian food. Most people also had huuuuge piles of shredded goat meat on their plates, but I know how to say "Ga ke je nama."

(From top, clockwise: rice, chakalaka (curried veg), samp (corn), potato salad (?!), mashed sweet potatoes, grated beets.)

Unfortunately, the bride didn't look very...happy. I don't know if that's a cultural thing, or if she just wasn't that excited. She was also at least in her late 30s. It's very common here for people to have children together before they get married, and also to have children with multiple people.

It's also possible she wasn't happy because she had to change outfits like three times and it was really hot outside.


On the way home, we stopped in Kanye to get a drink. Turned out a drink meant a beer--for our driver. We didn't realize that till we were almost home, though. I guess I wouldn't sniff at someone drinking one beer and then driving, but drinking one beer while driving seems like a bad joke.


  1. That was quite an event, sorry about the bride's demeanor. Although when I got married in Israel, I saw all the other religious brides seemed to stand under the chuppah looking demure and pious, with their heads modestly bowed. So I did that, too, and it messed up the pictures.

  2. Hi Shira! Just wanted to tell you that i LOVE your blog! It keeps me occupied through all my classes (for example, I am reading it now through professional responsibility- as if I will ever be professional, or responsible!) Anyways, love the writing, love the pictures, and it looks like you're having such a cool experience-- can't wait to read more! I especially loved the wedding post-- if anyone bitches about having to stay at camp for my wedding, I will just tell them that I could make them dance the same moves over and over in 100 degree heat.

  3. or serve them "potato salad?"

  4. Thanks for reading, Rena! I like to think I'm helping a lot of people through class/work, etc.

    It WAS identifiably potato salad. It was just weird that there was potato salad.

  5. Ahhhhh I see!!! Yes, that does seem slightly out of context :) Hope you're doing well!