In August of 2012, senior women’s basketball player Alli Gloyd (Phoenix, Ariz.) took a trip to Kitwe, Zambia for a wedding. She talks a little bit about her experience and African traditions.
Q. What was the wedding like?
“The wedding ceremony itself was very similar to traditional weddings in the United States. It was in a church and the only big difference was the photographers, because they would get really close to the bride and groom and people in the back couldn’t see over them.”
Q. What about the wedding reception?
“The reception was very nice. The bridal party entertains the guests. So months before we left, we started learning some dances and practiced them. For the reception, when they announced the bride and groom, we did the dance. And then did a couple more dances for the guests. It was outside in a nice little garden.”
Q. What kind of pre-wedding activities were there?
“Over here we have bridal showers and over there they have something similar, but it is called a “Kitchen Party.” Only women come and they have food there. It’s kind of like a ceremony for the bride to her respect to the groom’s family. And the families get together. And there is a LOT of dancing.”
Q. What kind of dancing?
“They just dance. Moving their hips to drums. They have the drummers there and the ladies tie a ‘kitenge’ around their waist and they just dance.”
Q. What was the food like?
“The food was different, but it was good. Their dish is called ‘nshima.’ To make it they put cornmeal in a pot and stir it—it almost looks like you’re preparing grits, but it turns into this paste. They keep stirring it, adding hot water, stirring it until it gets thicker and thicker. It’s a job to stir—your arm gets tired!”
Q. How do you eat nshima?
“You eat it with your fingers. You can pull pieces apart and put it on your plate. You ball it up and eat it with vegetables and any kind of meat. It’s so good.”
Q. What else differed from American weddings?
“For another pre-wedding event, a whole bunch of women came to the bride’s house and everyone was outside in the huge yard making nshima. We were all out there making this big feast for the groom’s family. The nshima was in a pot outside and found a stick and stirred it. Everyone stirred it and sang songs and danced while they were stirring. Inside, the women were also making vegetables, fish, chicken and a bunch of stuff.
“Once we were done making the food, about seven hours later, we loaded the food up on a bus and cars and drove over to the groom’s family’s house. The whole time we were driving, the windows were down and everyone was singing and shouting. Pedestrians on the street would also cheer, because they knew that we were celebrating a wedding.
“We took the food to his family’s house. We were all wearing the same thing, we had a blue kitenge on and a baby blue shirt. Then we all had bowls and we put them on our heads. We all walked together, singing and shouting. We got to the gate and the family came out. They welcomed us by talking and hugging. After that, we were able to go into their home.
“There was a huge ceremony in the living room, the meal was laid out on a nice mat on the floor. The groom was sitting on the couch and all the ladies on the bride’s side took the food to him and kneeled next to him. The rest of his family stood around us. Basically, we were just showing him the meal that his wife prepared for him.”
Q. What other activities did you experience in Zambia?
“I got to go to game reserve parks, went to church. A game reserve park is like a zoo, but they build areas around the animals so that people can come watch them in their habitats.”