Kitchen parties turned beer parties – EMELDA MWITWA

Wine dinners
Wine dinners

SOME occasions will leave you at a loss for words – you don’t know whether to call them kitchen parties or beer parties.
It is no wonder that a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicates that no nation has harder-drinking women than Zambia, where 41 percent-binge-drink at least once a week.

Zambian men, at 48 percent,  are ranked sixth highest binge-drinkers in the world, said the WHO report as quoted by the Washington Post.
Binge-drinking is defined as drinking at least 60 grams (about 4.3 servings) or more of pure alcohol at least once in the past week.
Against this backdrop, I am not surprised at the tendency by women who are invited to prepare a young woman for marriage turning kitchen parties into beer parties.
Binge-drinking, non-stop dancing, sometimes in an alcoholic stupor, and giggling take precedence over counselling of the bride.
Some women stagger back home, that is if they can manage to walk; others have to jump on taxis because they can’t remember their way back, while others still, take the risk of driving under the influence.
As a matter of fact, some women leave the kitchen party without whispering any words of counsel to the bride and yet, in essence, they are invited to prepare the ‘wife-to-be’ for marriage.
A kitchen party is not necessarily about wining and dining, but as a matter of courtesy, the bride’s family will throw a feast in appreciation of the material renderings and pre-marital counsel from invited guests to the bride.
For the sake of those not in the know, the order of events at kitchen parties is that invited guests bring kitchen utensils which they present to the bride.
Presentation of gifts goes with pre-marital counselling and each guest is given an opportunity to whisper something to the bride on a one-to-one basis.
But sadly at some kitchen parties, the behaviour of women who are expected to model good behaviour before the bride and other girls contemplating marriage is shameful, to say the least.
It seems the occasion is all about merry-making and some women care less about the young woman who is preparing for marriage.
It is actually a waste of time and food to invite some of the habitual kitchen party revellers to come and counsel your daughter.
It’s like the moment they hear of a kitchen party, the first thing that comes to mind is merry-making and of course beer.
As for regular imbibers, it’s that moment when they get to spoil themselves with freebies, and for occasional drinkers, it’s time to quench their thirst.
Then as some of the occasional imbibers start frequenting kitchen parties, they gradually get initiated into regular beer drinking and they will do everything to attend a bridal shower even if it means gate-crushing.
While the kitchen party is going on, you will find some women totally detached from the goings-on; drinking and having fun at the expense of the bride.
And when they mean to dance, they will boogie non-stop and you have to flex your muscles to remove them from the dance floor. When it’s time to present their gifts to the bride, some of these women do not come forward when their names are called out – either they are busy having fun or they are so intoxicated and are not in a position to counsel the bride.
I attended a kitchen party where one woman could not stand up or let alone return to her seat after a failed attempt to have a tête-à-tête with the bride.
I don’t know how she managed to walk to the podium, but she attracted attention when after kneeling before the bride, she was unable to rise up.
These are some of the disturbing things that happen at kitchen parties especially if the host family deliberately aims to intoxicate their guests.
This is common at kitchen parties involving the affluent where they buy large volumes of alcohol that will keep women partying long after the function has ended.
Sometimes you will find that even alangizi (traditional marriage counsellors) who sit side by side with the bride are tipsy.
Some of these alangizi ask for beer before the kitchen party begins because it is taboo for them to sip during the function. Surprisingly some families feel obligated to give in to the unreasonable demands of marriage counsellors.
Honestly, why would you allow someone to counsel your daughter under the influence of alcohol? My thinking is, if you hire a marriage counsellor you dictate the terms – no beer during the assignment – period!
From what I have seen, the best marriage counsellors are from the church and unpaid traditional counsellors; the kind whom you just give a token of appreciation out of your own free will.
Commercialised alangizi who will give you the bill and other terms and conditions in black and white may not always be the best option. Of course, not all hired alangizi are bad but the few ‘rotten nuts’ are spoiling the good name of traditional counsellors.
The point is, we need to stop excessive consumption of alcohol because beer is a driver for so many social vices. Being the worst beer drinkers in the world is not a good reputation for Zambian women.
A kitchen party is an occasion to prepare a young woman for marriage, and to undertake this task judiciously, one needs to be of sober mind.
From my experience, kitchen parties without beer are more orderly than the ones where alcohol is on the menu.
Obviously, even then, there are women who sneak in their own bottles of beer, but the degree of drunkenness and disorderliness is minimised.
Please women we need to be good role models to our daughters. You can’t say one thing to your daughter but act to the contrary, and expect them to do as you say. More often than not, our children are influenced by the things we do and not the rules that we set for them.
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