On January 17, Santeri Armas Potticary, a Finnish American who grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Tsholofelo Gladness Molale, of Itsoseng, North West, South Africa, celebrated their marriage in the home town of the bride, following the Tswana customs as currently practiced.
As long time close friends of the family, we were invited. We saw it as a unique opportunity, and enthusiastically accepted. Since Santeri’s uncle was unable to get off from teaching school during that time, I got the opportunity to serve as honorary uncle, representing the family in the Magadi (more about that later).
Only the groom was white, but people in Itsoseng called it the “white wedding”. It was the first such wedding celebrated in this black township, which had been established during Apartheid. Symbolically, it was an important event for many in the community.
For us, it was a unique opportunity to encounter another culture. We were welcomed into the homes of the extended family. We got to see how they lived, and to join in the celebration as members of the community.
In America, marriage is often treated as a private contract between two people, isolated from the rest of the community. Such an idea is totally foreign to the Tswana. For them, marriage is about uniting two families and building the community. In this case, we were also uniting two cultures; the community that we were building has global reach.
To digest it for myself and to share it with others, I plan to follow this with a series of posts, each devoted to a different aspect of this experience. Two cultures came together, not without occasional difficulties. For me, it was wonderful.