Annet called me over last night to give me an important message. She ever sent Grace away because it was very serious and she only wanted me to hear about it. I got a little nervous because what could she possibly have to say that was so serious. I began to imagine her confronting me over something I'd said or done that had offended her or someone in the community. In reality nothing could have clued me in on what was to come. With a very serious face she tells me, "Amanda, you can't laugh because this is serious. I have a message to tell you." Then she goes on to offer my very first official marriage proposal!
Men are always asking to marry me or calling out, "My wife," as I pass. I laugh these off and don't give them a second thought. This proposal, on the other hand, was done in the traditional Bugandan fashion and so I must take it seriously. In the Bugandan culture the man approaches an "auntie" to ask her to start the dialogue between the man and the woman he wants to marry. The auntie is used throughout the relationship being the negotiator of dowry and host of the introduction ceremony. The auntie is suppose to check out both the man's family and the woman's family. Because I don't have any biological family living in Uganda this man approached Annet whom he knew to be a good friend of mine.
The man, who I still can't remember his name, approached Annet twice before he got the courage to state his intentions. He told her he's witnessed my character over the last year and wants to marry me. He likes that I help others, know a little Luganda, and am not afraid to laugh with people. Annet told him that I want a man who will cook and clean for me (this usually quickly weeds out the Ugandan men and has been a successful put-down in the past) and he told her he was willing to do these things for me. She also told him I want someone who can support me both emotionally and financially. Again, he told her he would do his best to meet these needs and even informed her he'd been saving money to buy a plane ticket to America with me when I go back next year. This man has been thinking far longer than I had any idea.
This man is a local artist who I have had a few conversations with. I hadn't seen him in 6 -7 months until just recently when he was commissioned to paint a mural on the school wall here. Looking back I still hold that our conversations were platonic. Now the question remains in how I will respond. When Annet originally told me of this I seriously told her no but she said I need to have a better reply with many details. I'm even under the impression that Annet thinks maybe I should marry him. She told me, "he's young, handsome, and seems to care for you."
How do you reply to a serious marriage proposal that you don't even really take seriously yourself?