I attended my first bridal shower today. A cousin of a friend is getting married soon and the only reason why I tagged along is because they mentioned that there would be a ssenga session. I had learned in my history and social studies lessons that the ssenga was a very important person to the marriage because she was the one responsible for making the girl grow up into the woman that she should be; but most especially into an acceptable wife. I have a ssenga….well, most of us actually do. But in this day and age it seems like their cultural role in our lives has very slowly dwindled away. So much that some people have to go to the extent of hiring a professional ssenga to take the girl through what she should do in her marriage; but most especially in her marital bed.
I have heard about their inept discussions quite elusively from friends and was curious to find out for myself how deep these talks really go. So I sat, and listened. There were a lot of ohs and ahs going around the room as she told us things that we probably never imagined or had ever heard of; deep cultural things that this era of sex tapes and sex toys has slowly faded off…things that, if you really thought about, made a whole lot of sense. Don’t get me wrong, some of the things probably do not apply to this generation where people are trying too hard to be and act anything but African but most of what she said made sense. Most of what she said got me thinking about how we try so hard to copy the western ways of marriage and then wonder why our marriages don’t last long. (try and compare the divorce rates of our parents and the one of the people in the western world)
So, are SSengas really relevant in this day and age? I think they are; more than we can imagine. Especially in this so called dot com era where people would rather seek counsel on their marriage from their single best friend than from a family member.
I was looking at the different girls around and one thing I actually appreciated was the fact that everyone was being given a chance to learn;to ask questions. Taking in mind the fact that most of us may go into marriage without the slightest idea about our African culture,(and hence be unable to pass it on to our children) the fact that these ssenga sessions are meetings of not only the bride and her ssenga but rather the whole bridal entourage is a big plus.
Another even more important thing about them is apart from our botanical name and the villages that we visit twice a year, this is one other thing that we get to do to honor our roots. Of course, as a Christian woman, most of the practices that were spoken about may not apply to me but the knowledge of my past and the culture they had is something that I can be able to tell my children about and respect in some applicable aspects.
I am not sure if the gentlemen have ‘kojjas’ serving the same purpose that the ssengas serve for the woman. But I am surely glad that that was a part of our culture that we have not lost with the excessive westernization. Sure, it may be a little diluted but thank God it still exists.