A friend of mine from Pakistan posted on Facebook how her mother has been talking to her about marriage and since I practically spend my days looking for issues that will fit my blog, I knew I had found a topic!

Marriage in Pakistan is a very important affair with singing, dancing and merry fanfare. It is not only the bringing together of two individuals but of families. The affair starts with the proposal, where the groom and his family formally asks for the bride’s hand in marriage, this is then followed by an engagement party to a put a seal on the union of both individuals. The engagement can last for years before marriage depending on the age of the couple or bride. The Dholki, Mayun and Henna party (a decorative ritual that supposedly brings longevity and good luck to the bride) follow separately but recently in modern times as joined ceremonies. If the couples are Muslims, a Nikah wedding follows. This is the culmination of the build-up and a very important event. It is preceded over by an imam who oversees the signing of the wedding contract binding. After this ceremony, a feast, called Walima, is made by the groom’s family to celebrate and publicize the union.

Though for the Nikah, the couple must have two witnesses each to testify that the wedding is consensual, most marriages are arranged or semi arranged (the couple have met a few times) with emphasis on family union rather than the couple. The couple are usually elaborately dressed especially the bride, who is lavished with jewellery and bright coloured dress with a glowing skin resulting from the Ubtan turmeric paste, sandalwood powder, herbs, and aromatic oils rubbed in weeks before the wedding.

Recent years have seen women risking it all to defy this prevalent traditional mind set. While some have found love and happiness in arranged marriages, others haven’t been so lucky.  Cultural and religious tradition reinforces the view point that a woman’s responsibility lies at home and is required to behave accordingly as the honour of her family depends on it and so in some cases, the bride might never pursue a career after marriage.


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I was shocked last week when my manager introduced a colleague to me, a Kenyan. What was shocking about it? He is Asian! I mean he is Kenyan –though amused, this was something he vehemently insisted upon when I displayed disbelief -, but he is from Asian descent, he isn’t black.

I have met people from a different origin integrating and even identifying with a group different from their descent but this came to me as a shock. Africa is to most foreigners, a place where you they go to experience the Safari and maybe to volunteer with a charity, not a place to identify with and happily and willingly belong to.

I was intrigued so I did further research on this and I came across the book, Another Mzungu Passing Through by Jim Bowen, a teacher who had gone to Kenya to teach after some misdemeanour with a pupil in an English school.  He talked about how Kenya is mixed with Black, Asian and White population and how “it takes an age to be accepted by the families of the earliest white settlers”.

I also found out about the White African farmer, Michael Campbell, who had stood up to President Mugabe and fought for his right to remain in Zimbabwe as a white African and landowner. Another example is the white man, Guy Scott, who was recently elected vice president of Zambia.

Many have turned their nose up at these changes and are sceptical about the effectiveness of this integration. Mugabe had accused white Africans of stealing the fortune of the land and rendering black Zimbabweans poor. The popular side of immigration story we hear is of Africans leaving their home to greener pastures, mostly Europe and America. I remember when I arrived in London, the prevalent news at the time was how immigrants were stealing the locals’ job. The same way Americans are clamouring about Mexicans causing unemployment for citizens.

Though it can be argued otherwise, I realise that immigration is part of humanity and no law can take it away especially since these nuisances known as immigrants are an integral part of the economy and the initiators of a diverse and multicultural society.