Zimbabwe Wedding

Rowan and David consult to choose readers for the short program to follow.

The bride arrives, accompanied by her sisters and a host of special guests from the rural areas.

The day is cold, and we move into the sunniest part of the grounds.

Mr Soheili, representing the Baha'is of Zimbabwe, welcomes the guests.  He explains that the Baha'i marriage ceremony is very simple, the only requirement is that the couple eace repeat the vow:  "We will all, verily, abide by the Will of God," before witnesses.

Audrey begins the actual program, with a prayer for Unity.

Rowan reads from the program he has assisted Emily to prepare.

Mr Soheili shares a prayer for marriage, by 'Abdu'l-Baha.

Together, the wedding party finds a stump to use as a table for signing the Baha'i Marriage Certificate.  

Now, off to the church in Gweru.  Rowan and Valerie arrive, looking as though they could be twins.

As the car with the bride inside arrives, the women waiting at the church start to sing, ululate and make all manner of joyful noises to welcome her.  This is a close family friend, Veronica, in pink, and Mrs Constance Chibwana, mother if the groom, in red.

The relatives from the rural areas prepare to greet the bride, unfolding their zambias (shawls) to lay before her.

Here are Nomusa, the groom's sister, and Alyssa, the bride's sister, serving as bridesmaids.  They also must walk on the path of zambias, as the bride follows and her feet must not touch the ground!

Emily takes her father's arm at the door of the church.

The women continue the singing and celebration noises until the bride reaches the altar.

A prouder papa could never in the world be found.

With joy and warmth, the Minister and Best Man, Manpac, await the couple.

Last minute coaching from Baba Chibwana, better known as Sekuru (Patriarch) or Cuthbert Chibwana.

No doubts or nerves for these two on this particular day!

The dignified pastor speaks about the solemnity of marriage and the role it plays in the life of the community, and blesses the couple.

The family watches attentively.  Left to right:  Alyssa, Nomusa, Mrs Kennedy (the Marriage Officer for the State), Laurel, David, Rowan, Valerie, Audrey.

Vows:  Both must attest before the marriage officer that no encumbrance to the marriage exists.  This, because the banns were not posted, and also because there was a delay related to the marriage license, so the Marriage Officer graciously agreed to attend and make things legal.

Ring exchange

"With this ring, I am getting married to you."

Joy, and more blessings, from the pastor.

Joy from the mother of the groom.

Joy from Baba Chibwana

Joy and tears among the sisters of the bride.

Now, outside the church, everyone hugs everyone.

I couldn't let go to save myself.

Now, Valerie has what she craves:  a baby in her arms.  This lovely miss is Princess Macanaca, the daughter of Nomusa, who had all my daughters wrapped around her little finger for the duration of our stay.

David enthusiastically learned the Shona "clap greeting" - we didn't always clap at the right moments, but that we tried was appreciated!

Foongi, a nearby relative, who helped out at the "Plot" (farm), cooking and cleaning, while we were there visiting.  I came to love and appreciate her, and her hard road, raising two children without financial help from their father.  She worked all day as a maid, then would come in the evening to help her Auntie for a few hours.

From time to time these two disappeared into each other's eyes!

Nomusa and I really enjoyed one another - I hope to see her again before too many years pass.

Rowan smiled a LOT while we were in Zimbabwe.

Here is Ngoni, Wayne's brother closest in age, and Nomusa's twin.  He is holding his own son, also named Ngoni.  Ngoni is beautiful within and without; a gentle and thoughtful soul with the heart of a lion.  He works in Real Estate and also as a Pastor for his church.  He and his wife, Polite, live in nearby Botswana.

Emily HAD TO blow bubbles at her wedding reception.  It was a requirement.

The ladies from the Salvation Army church ensured everyone kept grooving!

Richard, a dear friend of the Chibwanas, acted as MC for the reception.

Our daughter Audrey welcomed the guests on behalf of the Batterhams.

Mr Chibwana also addressed the gathering and reiterated his blessing for the couple.

David and I spoke for quite a while, thanking the Zimbabweans for their hospitality and warmth, and sharing the warm wishes of our families back in Canada and Australia, especially our parents.  

We also spoke about the aspect of joining the black and white races in marriage, and how this represents to my parents a particularly wonderful outcome of their lifetime of service to the Baha'i Teachings, in that one of the main principles of our Faith is the elimination of prejudice.

We presented the couple with a prayer by 'Abdu'l Baha: 

"Wed Thou in the heaven of Thy mercy these two birds of the nest of Thy love, and make them the means of attracting perpetual grace; that from the union of these two seas of love a wave of tenderness may surge and cast the pearls of pure and goodly issue on the shore of life."  
(Compilations, Baha'i Prayers, p. 105)

The prayer was embellished by my mother on the computer, and she asked me to take a copy for Emily and Wayne.

Mrs Chibwana also spoke, giving the young ones her blessings and expressing her joy in the new friendships this marriage has brought for her.

 Connie Chibwana, in a rare quiet moment.  This woman is so full of fun and joy!  Also, she speaks her mind, and you are never in any doubt where you stand with her; this is the kind of forthrightness I appreciate so much as an aspect of personality!

The children listened to everything their parents had to say!!

Valerie and David sharing a joke.

Left to right:  Mr  Enayat Soheili, Emily, Mr Cuthbert Chibwana, Mrs Iran Soheili, and Wayne

David, with the Soheilis.  We were sorry that we didn't have an opportunity to visit them in their home in Bulawayo, where they have served as Baha'i pioneers for over fifty years.

Emily loves Tacu.  Tacu is Nomusa's eldest child, a boy who never stops moving unless the t.v. is on.  He fell in love with Emily the day she arrived, and when her sisters got there, he would say "I want to see Emily and the Others," in Shona of course as he does not yet speak English.

Two Aunties.

Nomusa with Auntie Sohdwa, Mrs Chibwana's youngest sister.

Gamu, the lovely wife of Wayne's second-eldest brother, Tinashe, a lawyer who came from Namibia to help out with the wedding preparations.

Here is the Pastor of the Shona church and his precious little daughter.  We had several warm visits with him when he came to the Chibwana home.

What is a wedding reception without a cake? Nomusa had arranged for the cake and was very disappointed as she had wanted red roses, not pink, and the third layer was cracked right through and the icing chipping off at the back.  Nevertheless, the cake was cut and served in traditional Shona style:  First, Emily and her sisters knelt and presented bits of cake to the groom's relatives.  Next, Wayne and his brothers knelt and presented the cake to us.  It was hilarious and heart-warming to see these enormous men walking on their knees, accompanied by cheering, clapping and singing.  As for my daughters, one of the Aunties told me they didn't think my daughters would do the on-their-knees thing, and were astonished to see all four of them serving the guests and walking from one to another on their knees.  

I'll add some more photos later . .  .