It is 14:00hrs. The MC’s voice booms from the loud speakers and guests gathered in the hall go quiet.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for the bride and bridegroom to enter the hall. I urge you to remain seated. DJ, a song for the bride and bridegroom.”
By this time, all eyes are fixed on the entrance door. This is the moment that everyone gathered in the hall has been waiting for. The bride and groom, holding hands, announce their entrance with dancing antics that make it impossible for the guests to adhere to the MC’s order. They all stand to catch a glimpse of the newly-wedded couple.
In the couple’s hands is a bunch of red roses. As they dance, they also look around for people they can hand them a rose. Some, oblivious of the meaning behind the roses distribution, stretch their hands to get one. Then the music dies down and it is the MC’s voice.
“Everyone who has received a rose, come forward. These two love you that’s why they gave you the rose. Now each one of you pay K3 000 to show your love too.” Stunned, they mumble.
Such has been the trend of most wedding ceremonies, bridal showers and kitchen top-up events. The events meant to be celebratory, are slowly becoming money-spinning events.
As if that is not enough, the celebrations have lost the Malawian touch and are marked with a cocktail of exotic elements.
But, just like many have argued before that there is no Malawian culture, one might be tempted to ask; what is the ideal Malawian wedding ceremony?
Take for example, a picture that has been circulating on social media networks, especially Facebook, purportedly showing a just married couple riding on a farm tractor. The picture depicts the happy couple passing by Mzuzu High Court.
The comments under the picture are twofold—there are those who despise it and then there are those who find it hilarious and argue that it’s not possible, especially nowadays.
Posh cars, the hooting, singing, video shooting and characterise most wedding ceremonies where music is played from CDs.
On the flipside, ox-cart and bicycle riding, beni, malipenga, mbwiza, chimtali are performed at most village weddings.
T/A Phambala of Ntcheu blamed western cultures for the erosion of what he termed as ideal Malawian wedding ceremony. The chief said a wedding party is meant to be a celebration not a money-making event that leaves guests with empty pockets.
“Malawi is losing its wedding traditions to western cultures. Today’s wedding parties are designed for profit making,” he said.
Psychologist and sociologist Chrissie Dzimbiri said the trend happening in Malawi is common in Africa and blamed it on the belief that western cultures are better.
Dzimbiri echoed Phambala’s comments, adding that even in the village people have abandoned the traditional wedding ceremony.
On turning the wedding into a business, she says this wedding style was adopted from Europe. She pointed out that it has attracted the idea of MCs, who do not come cheap.
Joyce Kachere, an MC popularly known as Mama G, agreed that such ceremonies are held as fund-raising events.
Another MC who opted for anonymity blamed the business-like trend on targets that MCs are given.
“Most couples set targets in terms of money to be raised. This gives the MC tough time because they want to ensure they meet the target.”