Vows, Smiles and (Lots of) Dancing

Two friends, turned lovers, turned husband and wife. A plot that fits and feels just right. On 24 November 2012, Cipo and Zifile became Mr. and Mrs. Mbozi. Cipo is my eldest brother in the Mbozi family and I couldn’t have been happier to see the two of them wed this past weekend. On top of the feeling like a part of the family in celebration, I had the pleasure getting to take in a day of marriage in Zambia. Weddings are so intrinsic to a culture and their variations between places colour the distinct identities of the people. This wedding was deep in those colours indeed.

The newlyweds; Mr. Cipo and Mrs. Zifile Mbozi.

Rewinding to the preparations, the week preceding the wedding was a flurry of activity. Fortunately for me, I was mostly watching from the sidelines of it all. Putting together such a day is no easy task! One of the big items on the agenda was nailing down the dancing entry of the bridal party. Remember those North American weddings with the choreographed entries that got so much attention on Youtube? Well the Zambians have been doing it since before the web was even a thing. Oh and their dance moves are way better. I was privileged to join in the rehearsals a couple times and picked up some moves – look out, Canada.

(Click the images below to make them bigger – I just discovered the gallery feature!)

The morning of the wedding day was the service, held at a local Catholic church. After tidying up the prim and pressed looks of the groom’s entourage – during which I somehow became the main style consultant – we hustled off in our brightly decorated cars. The service was a mix of universal wedding similarities and Zambian culture. Chelsea, one of the EWB Professional Fellows also in Zambia joined in the day as well and it was great to take it in together. Not having been to a wedding my memorable life back home, my point of comparison wasn’t so great, so Chelsea helped me out comparing some of the contrasts. I also found myself awkwardly stumbling along with the Catholic practices, but I managed anyhow. After some song and prayer, Cipo and Zifile said their vows and presented their rings. I’m sure it will be a moment they remember a lifetime. At one point my host father, Dr. Mbozi, hauled me into a dance line during one of the traditional songs. I managed to get a awkward follow along shuffle going here too. The older women at the service also raised a ruckus with a “loo-loo-loo-loo”, warbling holler (that’s my best description!) and dancing around the bride and groom – surely an infusion of past traditions.

After the wedding service we headed over to the Mulungushi Conference Center for a photo shoot on their well-kept and vibrantly green grounds. Everyone decked out in their wedding finest we all made for a good looking crowd. Of course, the bride and groom still stole the show. Without much more to say, some pictures below!

We also stopped by a local studio for some more pictures of the married couple and the bridal party. While we were waiting, Tabo, Billy and I took it upon ourselves to convene our own photo shoot… looking Zam-fresh. Someone get us a contract.

It was then on to the reception in the evening after lunch and a little refreshing. I was a little late arriving to the affair due to some confusion of plans in the car that was transporting me. So my entrance was flurry of computers, flash drives, undone ties, and questions of  “can we get started?” Despite it all though I managed to get the slideshow and video I had prepared off my machine and onto the one set up for the projector and things set into motion. The rest was one great moment on to the next.

The tune for the bridal party dance kicked in as the four newly-bonded brothers and sisters in law, dancing out in (near) perfect execution of their rehearsed routine. Following them was the brightly dressed Mo Africa, which blasted out some great Zam-pop in typical fashion; most, if not, all lip-synced and with dance moves that could bring the house down. Daxon, the band lead who did the bridal party choreography, brought some solo moves to the show that I could barley even keep up with watching. If I could have half his rhythmic mojo I think I’d be getting into Waterloo clubs for free… Next up was the bride and groom, entering with their own spectacular dance duet and leading their way to the head table on stage. The final dancing act was courtesy of the royal family of the Ngoni tribe, to which Zifile is related. They brought in the Ngoni Warriors who put on two great traditional dance acts, the first of which was before dinner with a bright and colourfully dressed solo dancer, with bells on his ankles performing a sort of tap dancing act. If I get the chance I will put up some video – the synchronicity of rhythms played by the drummers along with the stomping of the dancer was phenomenal.  The second act followed dinner, and included a humorous dance / soldier performance. In all, the entertainment was top notch! Dinner was also delicious and with great company in Chelsea and some of the Mbozi’s extended family.

Cipo and Zifile also gave me some messages to one another that I put into a video. They spoke earnestly of their feelings for one another and reflected on the journey to today.

I never saw Cipo coming, but he came anyways. And I’m glad he did.

Zifile, I love you and will always cherish you. You are my best friend and I am excited and longing for the great times we will spend together.

The evening ended with the cutting of the cake – led in by the couple’s grandmothers dancing the knives down the aisle – and a final dance number from the bridal party and newlyweds which opened up the floor for a bit of dancing. I did my best to hold my own amongst the natural dancing talent around me. I was told I faired pretty well (thanks to Daxon for the instruction).

The night was not yet done though as a small contingent of close friends and the exhausted, but still party ready bridal party headed for Club LIV in Chawama on the west side of town. We spent the night in one of the VIP rooms at the club sharing drinks, snacks, laughter, and (occasionally ridiculous) dance moves. It was a whole lot of fun, highlighted by the couple’s trip to the dance floor – Zifile’s dress and dance moves putting her at the center of the room. A perfect way to end a spectacular day – at the peak of the celebration.

Thanks to Cipo and Zifile for welcoming me into their special day as a member of the family. I can only hope for, and expect with confidence, a healthy and happy ever after for Mr. and Mrs. Mbozi.

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