Rwandan weddings and a savings culture
You know age is catching up with you, the more weddings and funerals you attend. At weddings, not only are you merely a guest, but wedding meetings, planning and all other protocol gradually start taking more of a central than peripheral role as the years go by.
It is all exciting times, but there are a few concerns that I am sure I share with many regarding young weddings in Kigali.
I know that unlike Western attitudes of individualism, our communal way of supporting each other as friends and family means that one doesn’t have to shoulder all the burdens alone.
To start with, I am yet to understand the phenomenon of having huge, lavish weddings on an almost non-existent budget.
To know that one’s wedding costs are out of a couple’s financial realm, and still go ahead with execution, banking on the generosity of friends and family is something that has befuddled me for years. How people do this and do not have brain aneurysms out of worry is beyond me.
I know that unlike Western attitudes of individualism, our communal way of supporting each other as friends and family means that one doesn’t have to shoulder all the burdens alone. Still, to have wedding meetings where included on the list of things a soon-to-be wedded couple will need are the groom’s suit, the bride’s wedding dress, gloves and shoes -- is confounding as it is illogical.
The idea of setting a date for the special day some months in advance means that this time will be used to plan and, importantly, save for the occasion. It is understandable that in this day and age, many a couple face the pressure to have a guest list of 1,000 people hosted at the Kigali Serena Hotel.
But to have to repay a bank loan for over a year for that single day is surely too much of a price to pay? The manner in which this occurrence is fast becoming the norm in Kigali – if it isn’t already – says something about our culture of saving. It is most likely a rarity to find a couple who have been engaged for a few years, have spent that time saving not only for their wedding, but the beginning of their married life.
Once at a forum for young women, one of the speakers (a role model in her own right) assured the audience how she and her husband decided that they wouldn’t start their journey of matrimony dependant on the financial generosity of others. Theirs was a small do, surrounded by close friends and family, and no doubt a matter of sound financial reasoning.
If weddings are a reflection of the savings culture amongst young, working class Rwandans, then we’re in for a tough ride ahead. Perhaps it’s time to rethink purchasing that Prado on a bank loan, and instead invest in a mortgage or some other form of long-term tangible asset.
Unless you can afford it without a loan, the ten million Rwandan francs that will be poured into a 24-hour event will most likely be better utilized as down-payment for a house. Or the first injection into your son’s college education fund.
Or a bakery business that will add to a couple’s combined income. I recently met someone who told me about the concept of “What’s the next, next?” When D-day is done and you’re faced with a huge dent in your finances and a colossal bank loan to repay, what’s the next, next?
Contact email: deempyisi[at]googlemail.com