(Photos by Lloyd Kai and Bernard Macharia)
I took a road trip to Kilifi town, North coast with my family on April this year. We’d gone for some sort of bride price paying ceremony – long interesting process (I didn’t get most of it😂)
We left Nairobi at around 6 am and got to Kilifi at 7 pm😩. Kilifi is far from Nairobi by road. It’s faster by air though because flight time is about 1hr from Nairobi to Mombasa then an hour’s drive to kilifi town.
The drive was really interesting. Mostly because we had good music in the car, I had a good read (The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini) and my camera was charged up so I was taking random pictures of anything and everything that I thought looked interesting. We stopped a couple of times on the way to stretch and get food and take pictures.
We got to Kilifi (after what seemed like forever) when it was already dark. We stopped at a local restaurant and had dinner. Swahili food is good. Trust me. The rest of the night was spent catching up with family over dinner. The temperature difference between Nairobi Coast was really evident – it was raining in both places, Kilifi being less wet than Nairobi but Kilifi was really warm and humid. We spent the night at my aunt’s place and I slept like a baby.
The next day, which was a Saturday, was the big day.
We all got dressed up and everyone was excited (My mum even started taking pictures before we left the house.)
Now, the ‘formal’ bride price ceremony proceedings are not all that interesting when you just want to go have fun at the beach but I’ll try to spice it up. We got to the home of the the bride to be’s family and as we entered there was singing and dancing then we sat down in a tent. The groom-to-be’s family was seated in a tent opposite to the tent of the bride-to-be’s family. According to tradition, the bride-to-be was not allowed to be seen yet, so she was hidden somewhere in the house.
There were speeches from both families, the swahili was intriguing, though I didn’t pay much attention to them. After the speeches and introductions there was another traditional procedure where a couple of young women are covered with lesos from head to toe then my uncle had to pick the one who he thought was his wife-to-be. If he picked the wrong girl he’d get fined. Predictably he picked the right girl. After that, we had lunch, the food was even better than last night’s.After a while the older, wiser members from both families went to ‘discuss the bride price’.
They said they wouldn’t be long, but we figured they’d take a while. Being as restless as young people in a ‘big people function’ could get, my cousins, my brother, my uncle and I drove to a nearby beach. The place was a private beach so there weren’t that many people. We climbed rocks and took loads of pictures. When we went back to the home the negotiations were still going on. Talk about not being long. They finished after a while and everyone was singing, ‘bibi tunaye hatunaye?’
When everything was done, we went back to my aunt’s place to freshen up and then left to a place called Tezo for dinner and ‘bonding’. There was good music and good food. We were taken home and the adults went to celebrate. The night was uncomfortably warm.
The next day was, sadly, the last of our short visit to Kilifi. We first went for a short visit to Bofa beach. It was really amazing. the scenery was breathtaking and the only thing to complain about was the fact that we couldn’t swim. After our short visit to the beach we headed to a store to get food for the road as we said bye to those we were leaving behind in Kilifi. After that we started our journey back to Nairobi.
Surprisingly, the journey back felt shorter to me. It’s probably because I slept through most of it since I was fairly exhausted from the weekend’s events. On our way back we stopped at an interestingly peculiar petrol station to stretch and re-fuel. The interesting/peculiar ting about this place was that the owner of the place seemed to have a particular liking for birds. Not just any ordinary type of birds. He kept some strange hybrid birds. There we miniature cocks and hens and huge chicken, multicolored doves and beautiful birds I have never sen before then.
I’ll post the pictures of these strange birds soon.
After the petrol station I read a bit then I fell asleep. The rest of the journey was filled with music, good conversation, sleep and Khaled Hosseini’s amazing writing.
We got to Nairobi safe, late and exhausted but the whole trip was worth it. I can’t wait for my next trip to the coast.