Some people choose to have two wedding celebrations, namely, a Town celebration and a Rural celebration.
That way they enjoy the best of both worlds. The Town celebration usually comes first soon after the church vows. It is very splashy and high-gear and may be celebrated in a hall or at some lodge in a garden.
The wedding party arrives with a bang, the wedding couple being accompanied by a train of bridal maids and groom mates. Sometimes the music and dancing simply propel both the bridal party and the onlookers to fever-pitch ecstacy.
But there is a lull during the fasting. At the end of the day the wedding is over and all the guests suddenly cease to be guests and they troop severally and individually back to their homes.
Not so the Rural celebration. Things are at a different level. The main differences here are that whereas the Town ceremony is dominated by instrumental music and most of the dancing is by the bridal party and a few selected groups the Rural celebration is everybody’s game beginning with the arrival of the bridal party (umtshakazi/umlobokazi/umakoti) herd by usanyongwane (the chief brides maid) egqize inyongo.
The whole kraal (umuzi) goes into a frenzy of joy with dancing and alulating and whistling (amakhwelo lemvokloklo). Those who can’t join in will at least stand up and stare and encourage and shout their admiration. Dancing by all people will continue for the whole day ( with some breaks here and there) and the whole night. Music is dominated by vocal singing which accompanies dancing.
Every and anybody is welcome to join in the singing and dancing. People simply love it and they enjoy themselves to the full. Food for the feast is much simpler than that for a town wedding but not less plentiful – meat , umngqushu, isitshwala, amahewu lotshwala and what not. Nowadays some weddings provide rice, potatoes, and bread.
Other details of what happens at a rural wedding have been discussed in an earlier article up to the time when the umthimba (the group that accompanied umlobokazi from her home) is waiting outside the groom’s home, which now is her new home. Phela usendile , usethethwe , usengumfazi wakoNyathi.
We explained that the umthimba is waiting outside the homestead while the senior companions of the bride and the senior relatives of the groom are locked together indoors for a grueling ukulaya session where tears flow freely from umlobokazi and other close female relatives .
It is not comforting to be bitterly warned against ukuloya, ukuncitshana, ubuvila, ukunyeya, ukuthanda imizi yabantu, ukubandlulula abomuzi, ubutshapha, ubukhwele, ukuphatha kubi unyokozala the lot. In the course of your married life some of these accusations may be leveled against you falsely or otherwise. That is a rude welcome to your new home.
Some may ask, is all this hullaballoo of ukulaya really necessary? Why strain the emotions? Yes, in the traditional sense it is a necessary warning campaign that fortifies the umakoti against shock when things begin to be said against her by her in-laws.
The saying that fore-warned is fore-armed applies well here. Kuzathiwa uyaloya wena ungakwazi ukuthi ukuloya lokho kuyini. Ake ukhumbule nxa sebetshela umkakho ukuthi kawuziphathi! Ukulaya is also regarded as a corrective.
It will correct makoti to refrain from negative practices because she has been warned in public . It will also correct her in-laws who are indirectly being warned against making false accusations . That is the essence of ukulaya. That is why when umakoti ekhaya does things that are not acceptable the saying is kalaywanga kuhle kibo and Buyela kini uyelaywa kuhle/ kutsha.
We have said that while the ukulaya is going on indoors the bride’s party has already said goodbye to the groom’s parents and relatives and is waiting outside of the homestead for those of their party who are involved in ukulaya.
That done makoti must come out to give farewell to her people. She is accompanied by her usanyongwana who will not be going away with her people yet.
The young people, boys and girls on the man’s (groom’s) side will also accompany the umthimba for a short distance from the homestead (say 200 metres or so) mainly to bring back “ their wife”.
That is when things begin to happen – EZAMASI. The umthimba party pretend that they are taking “ their daughter” back home. Those of the groom’s side will say, “no, she is our wife’ and they grab her by the arm to take her home ( groom’s). A tussle of a sort ensues between the parties each claiming umakoti. It can turn rough sometimes.
All young unmarried women on makoti’s side are abalamu and are grabbed by the youngmen to carry them back to the homestead . They resist vigorously and may shout abuse at their grabbers.
The men folk on the umthimba side will try to protect their “women” It now becomes anybody’s business and it becomes a protracted scuffle ( not in a negative sense) each side trying to get the upper hand. Abakibo kandoda sebefuna bonke abalamu, laba kibo kamfazi bafuna ukuhamba lomntanabo. Yisiyaluyalu kunjeya. Isimanga yikuthi abanye bayakhonjwa khonapho esiyaluyalwini.
In the end some elder women from the groom’s side will intervene and shield makoti from the “mob” and lead her back home. Now she is untouchable because usehanqwe ngoninazala.
That signals that the battle is over and the umthimba must depart. Of course that comes too soon for those young souls who were already striking an amorous understanding between them. Some people will depart with a few bruises from the scuffle and one or two of the men’s side will remain with a few bite scars on their arms from the resisting abalamu.
They like these scars and become proud of them for a memory . The groom does not take part kwezamasi . He stays home at the time when that is going on.
Barbaric? Sorry for you. You can’t just kill a custom like that. Those who get involved in it enjoy it.
They so much look forward to it before that moment comes. Uncivilized? Un Christian? Shame. Re- define your civilisation. Reconsider the meaning Christianity. Above all unNdebelize yourself if you don’t like it.