Mud and Marriage Proposals

9 Apr

This is what happens when I don’t write blog posts in a timely manner…. I forget the good stuff!

So back in December when I was headed to town from my site for the holidays I had myself a little adventure. While waiting for the mutatu (taxi) to show up on of the moto drivers tried to broker a marriage with me on behalf of a young man. As the conversation progressed the group of guys grew larger and larger.

Neither of them would accept the 101 reasons I gave them for not be able to get married, not even when I kept insisting that my dad wanted 700 cows (this almost ALWAYS works to foil marriage proposals). The young man said he had 600 and could easily buy 100 more. After 15 minutes or more I reached a turning point so I accepted the marriage proposal pending the purchase of 100 more cows. Then I decided to have a little fun. In an effort to make myself an undesirable bride I started asking the young man questions about if he was able to cook, clean, do laundry etc (mind you this is all in Kinyarwanda) because I didn’t know how to do any of those things. At some point another guy chimed in with a marriage offer from his friend who also had 700 cows and a moto to boot! I informed them that all I liked to do was read books and eat candy which immediately got me no less than 20 pairs of elevator eyes.

The guy with the second marriage proposal asked me how many kids I would have and that’s when I seized the opportunity to make myself into the least desirable wife ever. I announced that I was unable to birth children which was met with snickers. So I tried another tactic and told them I was barren, not knowing the word in Kinyarwanda, still no dice. Finally I pointed at my stomach and said, “Mfite iki bazzo hano” which means, “I have a problem here.” Instantly the jovial atmosphere disappeared and a wave of yoooooos echoed across the group of young men along with a couple Ihanganes (a general expression of sympathy meaning sorry/be patient). One of the guys announced that no man would want me and my husband-to-be reassured me that someone would.

Thankfully at this time a car pulled up offering me a ride. I was excited at the prospect of riding in a car instead of cramming myself in a taxi, until I remembered that the offer probably wasn’t free. Indeed it wasn’t, they wanted the same amount as a taxi fare but were only going half the distance. My cheapness made for a good bluff as I pointed out the taxi that was previously being worked on was finally running. The guy instantly halved his price and started guiding me to the car.

I’m happy it worked out with the car coming just when it did because I can’t imagine having to stick around and be subjected to the pity of the young men who think I’m barren. Not to mention that the road construction in that area makes many places in the road incredibly difficult for the mutatus to pass. It had rained all night the night before and into the morning so the roads were especially bad that day so I was thankful for the ride in a 4WD car. Particularly since I didn’t see any other mutatus on the road, it could’ve been hours before I finally got one/made it through the mud.

I was reminded of all this last month when I was visiting one of my coworker’s and he asked me if I had an ‘inshuti’. I told him I didn’t and asked what prompted the question. Turns out someone from the area around where I catch the taxis told him that I had a boyfriend who was a student in Kigali and that I was paying for his school. I chuckled and told him about the December marriage proposal as a possible explanation, unfortunately jokes about infertility aren’t as funny to some people. Understandably.


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