Just came back from an exuberant Ethiopian wedding ceremony in a hall which was once part of one of the Jewish synagogues in Yeoville. My friend and colleague in the African Diaspora Forum, Abtamu Abe, married his love, fellow Ethiopian Netsanet Tizazu.
The entire event was conducted in Amharic – the only words I recognised were Jesus Christos, Johannesburg, chairman and pastor.
It was a very upbeat event in which the bride and groom danced with each other at the beginning of the ceremony, unlike most weddings where the dancing only happens at the end. There was much audience participation, with many Amens and lot of hand-clapping. This was especially so during the part where the bride and groom said their vows and exchanged rings. The organist ran the event a little like a 1960s radio or TV game show, in which every statement or event was followed by a burst of music.
Things I hadn’t seen at a wedding before included the couple kissing each other’s rings after slipping them on their fingers, and the bride and groom lighting a common candle with another that each held in his and her hand – symbolising the unity of two separate people into one, I imagine.
A couple of pictures of the event follow. I apologise for the poor quality. I used an old cell phone – stupidly forgot to take a camera. It was a very colourful, bright occasion as you can see.
The abiding memory I have of the occasion is walking into the wedding venue for the first time after negotiating the dark dirty alleyway leading to it from the parking area. The room was ablaze with light and colour. It was not something I expected to see in Yeoville Bellevue, a sign that even I – Yeovue patriot supreme – need to be wary of having dminished expectations of our area.