The Wedding Convoy
It’s wedding season at the moment and every weekend, without doubt, until the rains start in July, you will see and hear weddings, but more specifically, you will see and hear the wedding convoys driving up and down the street. Ethiopian weddings are a big deal, the celebrations are elaborate, 300 people are easily invited at every wedding and there is enough food to feed a small town for days. To add to the show, Ethiopians also love to drive around with their guests, in a convoy of vehicles, honking their horns as they drive around town. This is to alert the entire town or their marriage and happiness of course. The range of vehicles at their disposal is pretty impressive as well. Below are just some of the vehicles I have seen so far, but many more exist including stretched hummers, old Mercedes from the 1980s, line taxis and even horse and cart.
This double decker bus was spotted driving the streets of Ambo. The wedding was actually around the corner from my house, but I was not available to attend. The double decker bus can usually be seen driving around Addis Ababa as it is the only sight-seeing tour operation in Ethiopia. It’s also the only functional double-decker bus in Ethiopia (there is a red double decker at Addis Ababa University which has been transformed into a snack-bar). The ingenious wedding planners thought it would be a good idea to get them to drive over to Ambo for the wedding, and what a brilliant idea it was. It was very strange seeing this bus drive up and down the strip in Ambo. Personally I’m not sure I would like to take the bus for a ride into the countryside though, as the roads are very steep and windy. Ethiopians get travel sick at the best of times, not sure how they would react sitting on the top floor driving around the hills. But as wedding car, an excellent and original idea.
This is one of the many ‘stretched’ vehicles available for hire to wedding parties. These sorts of vehicles can easily cost 25,000 birr for the day (€1,000), which is a large chunk of anyone’s yearly income here. Therefore, the whole family tends to contribute substancial amounts of money when family a member get married. There are many varieties of the stretched limo here but the most insane is the stretched hummer that drives around Addis, it’s just…not right.
This is a convoy in ‘action’. The head car, in the middle, is an old Chevrolet flanked on all sides by older Mercedes. I’m sure I could make a war joke here somewhere but I’m going to refrain. These convoys generally drive around town honking their horns as they drive from place to place.
Something that I don’t have a picture of here, but is very important to the Wedding Convoy is the leading film truck. At every wedding convoy there is always a 4×4 Toyota with a camera man in back filming the drive. He orders the cars into procession and directs their speed and direction.
So that’s that, the Wedding Convoy entry. The pictures aren’t the best but at least you can get an idea of what a wedding convoy looks like here. I’m thinking about introducing the idea of confetti and tins behind the vehicles to them, but not sure the world would thank me for that. I’ll keep you posted on what I decide.