What you need to know:
- It turns out, after all, that we'll have short rains, and Kenyans if all the lamentations on social media are to go by, feel cheated.
- In spite of preparing for months for this event, my community has never arrived at the woman’s home in time, keeping the hosts waiting an entire day.
If there is an event that was hotly anticipated by Kenyans this year, it is the El Niño rains. When you keep being promised something and it doesn't happen or delays big time, you begin to get agitated and feel let-down, even when that something is not good for you – yes, I know, human beings are a puzzling lot.
But surely you understand where I’m coming from, I mean, even speedboats were bought, or were to be bought, in readiness for the heavy downpour that the Met department started warning us about in January.
Where I live, so far, it hasn't rained, no, drizzled, more than five times, and all the vegetation around us is browner than green, due to being denied rainfall.
And then it turns out, after all, that we'll have short rains, and Kenyans if all the lamentations on social media are to go by, feel cheated.
This El Niño has behaved like my countrymen on the way to a ruracio, dowry payment for those who don’t speak my mother tongue.
In spite of preparing for months for this event, my community has never arrived at the woman’s home in time, keeping the hosts waiting an entire day.
An event that is supposed to start in the afternoon, (since what is served is lunch) more often than not starts in the evening, from 4pm, yet the hosts are usually ready for the visitors by 12pm. At this rate, maybe we should start serving guests tea and mandazi during these events…
There is no ruracio that I have ever attended which started on time, and the result is always angry in-laws, cold, sometimes stale food, and a hurried ceremony that robs the occasion of the joy it is supposed to elicit.
A group of us once arrived at a friend’s ruracio at 4pm. His wife came from a hilly village (whose name I don’t recall) somewhere in the interior of Meru County. We started the journey back home at 7pm, and, as it happened, it rained, and the cars we had travelled in got stuck in the mud, forcing us to push them uphill in the mud and trekking part of the way. To cut a long story short, we arrived in Nairobi at 3am, dog-tired.
And the script is almost always the same – groups paying the dowry meet at a certain point along the way, (by the roadside, or a hotel near the host’s home).
There are, of course, those that never arrive on time, and will come bearing a woishe story explaining why they couldn’t keep time, and since the group is supposed to arrive at the same time, those that kept time have to wait for these ones.
And why, pray, do we collect money that is part of the dowry payment on that day? I ask because this is one of the things that contribute to this tardiness, eating into time that should be spent at the woman’s home.
With this era of mobile money, wouldn’t it be more efficient if the money was sent to the treasurer in advance?
I once heard the story of a man who turned such guests away when they arrived to pay dowry for his daughter at 5pm.
Apparently, he was military man who had lived with structure most of his life and was appalled by the audacity of the guests.
Not willing to incur the wrath of his father-in-law again, when the groom returned to perform the aborted ceremony, he travelled in a party of three, and they had arrived at the homestead by 11am.
Maybe if more people behaved like this man, we would start giving the respect that is due to such ceremonies, which are part of our cultural heritage.