On the first of October, Inzozi Nziza celebrated a very special occasion! Julienne, one of our stellar employees, was married to her fiancé, Emmanuel Bizumuremyi. Inzozi Nziza’s staff attended the wedding, and several staff members participated as members of the bridal party. Chantal, one of our Assistant Managers, was a one of the “abaramukanya” – the Rwandan equivalent of bridesmaids. Leatitia and Rose assisted in the distribution of wedding drinks and cakes. Our very own manager, Marie Louise, was the fille d’honneur (translated from French to mean “honored girl”), which is the close equivalent to the Maid of Honor.
In traditional Rwandan weddings, there are several main ceremonies. In our post below describing Claire’s engagement, you can learn all about the various aspects that compose a traditional Rwandan engagement ceremony. Here, we continue with details of the ceremonies that follow!
First, there is the Introduction and the Giving of the Dowry. In this ceremony, the family of the groom and the family of the bride gather at the house of the bride. The family of the groom must ask for the bride, and a series of back-and-forth dialogue ensues between the two families until an agreement is reached, in a fashion very similar to the engagement ceremony. After this, the dowry is given. Traditionally in Rwanda, the dowry may include cows. In Rwandan culture, cows are symbolic of wealth and stability – they are considered one of the highest gifts to bestow. At Julienne’s wedding, the family of the groom presented several items, including hoes, scythes, and jerry cans, and followed with the presentation of a very large, beautiful black cow. Once the dowry had been presented, it was time for the arrival of the bride.
Julienne and her bridal party, dressed in stunning mushanana (traditional Rwandan finery for women, often made from floaty, gauze-like material), entered into the ceremony. Julienne and Emmanuel exchanged gifts between the two families, and the bride and groom took turns offering one another sips of juice. The guests then shared fanta and sipped urwagwa (traditional Rwandan banana beer) from gourd calabashes.
After this ceremony follows the religious portion of the wedding. This general takes place in a local church. Here, the bride dresses in a western wedding dress complete with veil, and the bride and groom exchange vows before a figure of the church. Julienne was absolutely stunning in her gown! After exchanging their vows and removing Julienne’s veil, she and Emmanuel fed one another wedding cake (baked by Celestin, a good friend to Inzozi Nziza), and had a party of women and men perform traditional Rwandan dances for them.
Finally, after the religious ceremony comes the final portion of the wedding, the reception. Here the guests are given fanta and wedding cake, and gifts are presented one at a time to the bride and groom. Inzozi Nziza brought Julienne and Emmanuel 50 kilos of rice and 5 liters of oil, which we proudly presented together as a staff.