This morning I walked out of my house to see a group of merry bo-me huddled around two large barrels boiling over a fire. It’s wedding week.
Last October, my brother, younger by fourteen months and one day, married the love of his life. It happened to fall in between my Peace Corps stints and I was able to partake in all the wedding activities. I threw my sister-to-be a garden-themed wedding shower, threw back shots at her bachelorette party, helped her pick a dress for the shower, joined the wedding flower making party, designed the programs, spent the Saturday before assembling the programs and helped decorate the reception area after the rehearsal dinner. I was so happy to be in the mix of it all.
This week, another sibling gets married.
My host sister in Lesotho, Masieng, weds on Saturday. It will be my first wedding in this country.
Masieng, who lives at home with our family because she teaches at a nearby school, traveled to Maseru nearly every weekend. She said she visited her aunt there, but I knew a boy was involved. Then when she asked me if I had a boyfriend, I turned the gun on her. All I got was a giggle.
One Sunday I heard her come home from a weekend in Maseru.
“Kennuoe, do you want to meet my boyfriend?”
“YESSSSSS!!!” I screamed and sprinted out of my house. A very nice young man was sitting in a white pickup and greeted me shyly. He was cute and seemed successful. I immediately approved.
Then one day, watching our nightly soap opera, she announced: “I am engaged.”
Over the next two months wedding preparations began, but different from what I know in America. Each room in the family’s house received fresh coats of paint and the living rooms earned new furniture. My ‘me came home with boxes of spices and drink mixes, including bags of samp (similar to cream corn) and Styrofoam serving dishes for the feast. Two cows and six sheep were named as sacrifices. White flags, announcing the wedding to the village, were raised four weeks prior to the big day. My ‘me brought a small, but sharp, suit for the orphan herd boy who lives with us. And, today, the bo-‘me started preparing the joala, or homemade Basotho beer, for the big day.
It will be a busy week as the family prepares for the wedding of its eldest child. For me, I am a bit sad. Masieng is my best friend in village and her marriage means moving to Maseru. She’ll have to come back for the next school term, but I am going to miss our daily soap opera time and teasing each other. I am going to miss hearing her voice when I return home after a long day. I am going to miss dancing with her to the radio. I am going to miss her constant teasing. I am going to miss her.
But that part comes next week. This week it’s time to celebrate and be happy because someone I love is marry the love of her life.