“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” ― Ghandi

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Here comes the bride...

Wednesday June 13, 2012

Three marriage proposals in the last week ... I'm not sure I can keep up with all the demands of three men fighting over me. The first happened in the beginning of the week and I just kind of laughed it off because I thought he was joking. His name? Moses. He is a local flycatcher who has been following us around for the past three weeks. As mom puts it "he goes gaga every time he looks at me." When he first proposed he told me I was worth one cow... talk about a slap in the face. He then raised his price to two cows. You're probably thinking what on earth is she talking about, cows? Yes.. It is Tanzanian Maasai tradition for the male to pay his wife's family in cows for her hand in marriage. On average, one cow costs about 500,000 to 700,000 shillings which equates to about $300-450. After I found out how much one cow costs, I kind of felt bad for telling him I was worth more than that. He probably can only afford one cow, if that. I don't feel too bad though because Maasai are also entitled to more than one wife, so who knows how many other mzungu's he's trying to wed himself to. Since then, Moses has successfully seeked me out in a crowd of people and has made it nearly impossible to escape. He tells me that he has to win over the affection of my mother before he can proceed with our (mine and his) relationship. When he finds us on the streets of Moshi town he won't talk to me until he says "shikamoo mama" to my mom, then he directs his attention to me. For those wondering, shikamoo is a respectful way of saying hello to people older than yourself. Mom gets a kick out of the fact that he is trying to win her respect, and she says her new plan is to tell him that if he seriously wants to marry me then he will have to buy 1,000 cows. I think once he hears this he might change his mind about his marriage proposal.

As for the second marriage proposal, that happened last night. This individual told me that he loved me and he wanted to know if I loved him. Funny thing is, I know NOTHING about this person, and he knows NOTHING about me. He got offended when I asked "how can I love you when I don't know you". He told me "when you know, you know". I find it kind of funny because I've always been the kind of person who believed that when you loved someone you would just know. Perhaps he's correct, but unfortunately I just don't feel for him the same way he feels for me. African culture regarding relationships and marriage are a lot different here than they are in America, and I unknowingly accepted his marriage proposal. He handed me a simple red rose and I just thought he was being nice and giving me a flower. I know that in America the red rose is often associated with romance and affection but apparently in Africa it means you are accepting his love, so therefore his marriage proposal. I also learned that if he gives the woman a red rose in a crowd of people (which he did), that signifies he is serious and he's not ashamed to admit his love. Great for him, but bad for me... I've never been the kind of person that was good at rejecting people, so I'm not sure how to go about this. I've been warned by our friend Cessy that if I don't let him know how I feel now, than I will only be giving him hope and leading him on. I can already see that taking affect within the last 24 hours because he was very insistent that I had to give him an answer on whether or not I would give him a chance. He is also not too fond of other men talking to me or even looking at me. I wonder what he would do if he saw all the flycatchers who follow me around town...

The third and final marriage proposal, for now, occurred this afternoon on our way to lunch. This person happens to be another flycatcher, who knows fiance #1 (Moses). The best part is that he is the SAME person who sold a souvenir to my mother for three times the price we should of paid. I saw him this afternoon, while being held up with Moses, and told him in Swahili that he had ripped us off on this item. He then proceeded to tell me that I was beautiful and a very nice girl. Not exactly the answer I was expecting after I had just insulted him and his shop that he works for... A few minutes later I had had enough of all the flycatchers swarming us so I started to head towards the restaurant we were attempting to go to. He proceeded to follow us to the restaurant with his arm around my shoulders. In Swahili he said "wewe nimzuri sana" which translates to him thinking that I am great.. then in English he said he would like to make me his wife. Did I forget to mention that he's probably a 60 year old man, with dreads? All I could do was laugh, partially in disbelief and partially in disgust.

I'm starting to wonder how bad it would be if I didn't have my mother with me everyday walking through town. I have a feeling my marriage proposal count would be a lot higher if not for her being there. Luckily, I have people like Cessy who was able to spend a decent amount of time telling me all about the African culture regarding relationships and marriage. For now, no wedding dates have been set....

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