Zambia Travel Diary — Day 6 — The Wedding

(2015.09.10 23.16 Night before the wedding. I’m slightly nervous, or maybe more worried, just hoping everything will be okay, that nothing will ruin their day and that I won’t make a fool out of myself. I’m sort of tense, waiting, anticipating, so I don’t even know what to write about that. But I just put the alarm, and glanced at the clock in different time zones. It’s different when travelling, when the earth itself has shown differences beneath my feet. It’s morning in Tokyo. 6.23. In my head I can see the sun rising, sweeping the map from one side to the other. I’m not at home, I’m in the world now, a dot on the map, so I suppose I should sleep before it gets me.(I bought a new book today at a shopping centre, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou which I’ve wanted to read forever. It also changes the way I write, maybe too much, when I’ve just read something in a specific style. And maybe specifically when I write in english since it’s not my mother tongue. I really should sleep.))

2015.09.11 (technically 2015.09.12) 00.18 I wanted to think something as I sat on the stage at a (sort of) traditional african wedding reception in Zambia. It would be a lie to say I came up with something eloquent. Quick words to capture the motions and lights. Colour and clothes comprised. But I knew I wanted to shape something out of the word ‘different’, this weird adjective that has captured this journey in general and is meaningless and everything. Different just means different. Everything is. It’s a comparison. But I’ve thought it as a good thing, the way it’s used in society, and in those moments it wasn’t.

I was a bridesmaid. They picked me up at 7.30 to go do our hair. I wrote a note on my phone while there:

10.58. The wedding is in one hour. We’re in some random saloon where they seem really surprised by styling a white girls hair. But they’re good. It’s not the same ‘every corner needs to be clean’ feel as in Sweden, which is quite nice actually. I wonder if we’ll make it in time though. Not as much for my own sake as for the others.

This was back when I was still tense, when nothing had happened yet and everything was to come. A to do list of nerve-wracking (that I blame my bad writing on) that made it difficult to wait.

Everything ran smoothly. That was not a problem. We were late to the church, obviously, and for everything else, but everyone always is and that way the time-culture here that doesn’t work still kind of does. Then came the party. We were the intro, walking in dancing and then quick out to change for the main dance. After which we were going to improvise. Together with one of the guys you had to stand in the spotlights on the dance floor and shake your body. I just did my best and hoped it lived up to the small expectations of a white girl. It was quite fun, not gonna lie. But then the guy leading the whole thing spoke some more.

The thing is, when you take a walk in Zambia, people will look at you. Try to talk to you. When I was at the kitchen party some guy at the gates wanted to take a photo with me and then wouldn’t leave me alone. And it’s sad. People on posters are white. In commercials, on magazine covers. Not necessarily, nor always, but more than what you would expect form looking around. It’s sad in a way of admiring something you can’t have, be, of putting yourself beneath. But they also see white people as rich. Which, while often true, in comparison (and maybe those who go here), also means that at events like this they will make a thing out of asking the whites for money. And they will joke about us, all for the sake of entertainment, but while them speaking one of the many small Zambian languages is charming, it gives you a bad feeling when you know they talk about you and everyone laughs.

This was more about my family’s table, as a bridesmaid I sat on s small stage at a table next to the wedded couple. When they introduced all of us though, the guy leading it obviously had to say that I couldn’t return from Zamia without a man. He proposed. I said no. He told me he would ask me something in another language and I should say yes. I said no. Hopefully in a way that made it fun. And then they prayed, which they did earlier and later as well, in a very serious way. But this time I was really feeling it and wanting to pray when I noticed that the guy leading us spoke about gratefulness to what we had been looking forward to the most, the food, and then got progressively less serious. Towards the end he wasn’t speaking english anymore and everyone was laughing. And it wasn’t that he was disrespecting prayer, because once again; entertainment, but maybe it was just that I had been really going in for it, connecting with God.

Later the woman leading the kitchen party wanted take photos of me standing really close to her grandson. She tried to talk to me more about him, but I said I had to go and got out of her surprisingly tight grip. Guys tried to talk to me while walking past, someone shouted something, if they don’t know my name they call me white girl.

I know rasism, is what I should have thought while sitting on stage. I didn’t know and still don’t, but maybe a little more. Because to me, knowing is to such and extent feeling.

It wasn’t bad. I would consider the other bridesmaids my friends now, and so many people were very kind and perfectly polite. A lot of them aimed their eyes at my words and not my face. But some looked at my face and stayed at that and maybe we all just hate being looked at. As if people don’t even try to look for a soul.

But at the end of the day, the bride and groom were beautiful. I love living outside my comfort zone (even it it makes me irritated at the people in it when I come back) and I think that I learnt. And I should write more but I’m in bed and the power’s out so I need to turn off the flashlight, because my eyes are (repeatedly) falling shut while trying to come up with something good to end this with.

(On my wedding I want flowers wrapped around my tiara and a lot of sun and blankets and friends playing me songs and reading me poems)

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Originally published at eirians.wordpress.com on October 17, 2015.