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    Monday, May 05, 2003
    Update From Malawi

    Another update from Chuen-Yen regarding social events in Malawi. She has been to a wedding shower, which in some ways sounds similar to US wedding showers. I especially liked the lyrics of the first song:

    Maswera (Good afternoon):

    Giving lingerie at bridal showers is a serious faux pas in Malawi. House wares and womanly advice are considered more appropriate gifts. This makes sense since the spectrum of guests includes the betrothed's parents as well as every female friend, relative and acquaintance conceivable.

    Like weddings and funerals, bridal showers are ineluctable affairs. Linda Mbekiani's gala event included a conventional program of seminars on hygiene, finances, home management, and communication. Between lectures, attendees were invited to boogie up the center aisle and deposit money into designated receptacles. Cashiers made change and broadcasted totals. Well-wishers periodically hooted for effect. At intermission, each invitee was rationed a snack of one muffin, a meatball, half a piece of fried chicken and a mineral. Chanting, love songs and traditional dances punctuated the program. A few verses were kindly translated for me...

    As Linda was escorted to the front of the auditorium:

    "Your friend is getting married.
    Why are you not married?
    You will be wandering like a hyena.
    You will be taking other people's husbands."

    After the lecture on home management:

    "Sweet potato leaves are good.
    They bring happiness.
    Make them for your family."

    Before introduction of the parents:

    "Where are the elders?
    They are not here.
    They were walking to the graveyard and died along the way."

    When absentees later inquired about the event, I gave pertinent details and mentioned some verses. Several eavesdropping nurses immediately burst out with the familiar Chichewa lyrics. This weekend's marriage is sure to be harmonious.

    Hope all is well,




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