Last week I was invited to a "shower" of sorts by one of my students who was throwing the party for her niece. I was told to "pendeza" (dress up), bring my camera and that no kids or unmarried folks were allowed. I had no idea what I was in for! I have never learned more about this culture then in those 4 hours!!
I arrived 30 minutes late and was the first person to show which meant couch hauling and sweeping duty for me while the women of the house buzzed around applying obscene amounts of eye shadow and liner and getting dressed in their finest. Once everyone arrived the bride to be was escorted out to hoots and hollering from all the women and asked to sit down next to the three women who would be leading the evening. My student asked me to sit next to the bride to ensure I did not miss a thing. After prayers they launched into "Being a Zbari Wife 101" as I coined it which included rules on getting along with in-laws, dealing with meddling neighbors, cooking, cleaning duties, and how to properly wash clothes. That was the first hour. The second hour and a half dealt with fulfilling the intimate needs of your husband. Seriously. Just a little detailed chat about sex in front of 50 of your closet friends and family members. Now, I am not a prude and can even admit that I tend to be a bit inappropriate at times but even I was shocked! Anyone who thinks fully covered women are quiet, demure, and completely proper has never been in a room full of local women at singo! And no worries if I could not understand a particular word since they acted out everything!! I could not help but blush when they explained in detail and then acted out how to please your husband. Seriously (wait, I already said that). Seriously.
The bride just sat stunned and nodded every once in a while when asked if she understood everything. I cannot divulge specifics here but let's just say when I arrived home and reported everything to J his only comment was "you are for sure an insider now." My neighbors also gave me hearty congrats and came over for days to hear the stories and add their advice. At least laughing was culturally appropriate or this Mzungu would have been in trouble.
Some of what was said made me realize again how grateful I am I have a husband to seeks to love me as Jesus loves His church because women here are expected to just hide their feelings so much. They are asked to ignore indiscretions and serve regardless of how they are treated. But much of what was said was really great and made me think that we need more things like this in our culture. Ok, so maybe not sex positions in front of your great Aunt but women talking to women about marriage- the really daily life of it and not just planning what color the flowers will be at the wedding. As always diving deeper into the culture here gives me much to pray about, think on, and learn from my friends. And I am so grateful they invite me along.