THE MISSING BRIDE: PART TWO

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(IN the  first part of this three-part series last Thursday, we explained how Pastor Mabvuto Ngoma was forced to cancel the wedding ceremony  involving David and Margaret slated for Saturday, 3rd July,1993, at Lusaka’s Reformed Church in Zambia (RCZ) in Mtendere. This was after the bride, Margaret,  failed to turn up for the event. Here, the bride’s aunt, Mrs Ngoma, explains how the relationship between the groom and her runaway niece started.  Now read on….)

Mrs Ngoma explained that it was in December the previous year (1992) when two messengers came to her Libala home and informed the family that there was a young man called David living in Mtendere who was interested in marrying her niece Margaret.

“It transpired that this David boy was the brother of one of my former neighbours. The boy actually stayed with this neighbour of mine for a long time, although I didn’t know him because as a businesswoman, I am kept busy all the time, so it is difficult for me to know everybody in my neighbourhood.

“Apparently, it was during that time that David proposed love to my niece because the two happened to know each other. Anyway, when the two messangers came and told us one of their boys was interested in marrying my niece, we asked Margie, who confirmed that it was true that  she loved the boy.

“Since Margie’s parents are at home in Katete, we naturally had to consult them over the matter. Their answer was that if we in Lusaka were satisfied with the boy my niece had chosen for her life partner, they had no objection to the proposed marriage. Everything was thus put in our hands.

“I therefore asked my niece if she really loved the boy she was intending to marry.  She insisted that she loved him very much and that we could go ahead with the marriage preparations. It was then that we told David’s parents that we could now talk serious business since our  children had confirmed that they loved each other.”

According to Mrs Ngoma, her family had initially charged the suitor’s family K30,000(old currency) as bride price but when they complained that this was too much the dowry was reduced to K24,000, which they paid.

She said it seemed her niece had bloated expectations of what would happen once she got married to David. The girl allegedly used to tell her and the family that as soon as she got married, her future husband would be allocated a Zambia Airways flat in Rhodes Park and that they would live in Mtendere only temporarily.

“She also told us that David was working as an assistant engineer with Zambia Airways and that once she got married, she would be flying to London or Bombay(Mundai) at staff rates since her husband was a senior airline employee.

“When we asked her who was telling her these things, she would just smile and tell me to just hurry up with the marriage preparations because she wanted to get married. I like the girl, she is so well behaved, and I didn’t want to disappoint her  or do anything to shatter her fantastic dreams.

“As a small girl, that was to be expected of her; for  as far as the family was concerned, what was important was that the girl was getting married, which is the wish of every parent. And it was resolved that this was going to be a Christian marriage, with the wedding conducted in church, especially that both David and Margie belonged to RCZ.” When it was agreed that the wedding would take place on 3rd July, 1993, both families immediately started making the necessary preparations for the momentous occasion.Margaret’s family was to prepare the wedding cake, the wedding dress and other requirements for the bridesmaids as welll as arrange for the printing of invitation cards.

“When cards were printed, Margie mentioned a number of people she wanted to be invited. But since the names she was mentioning were so many, I told her to put them on a piece of paper,which she did and gave the list to me.

“I sent the cards to most of the people appearing on her list as well as those I had selected myself.

Some of the cards were sent to Mtendere for David to distribute to whichever people he wanted to attend the wedding,” Mrs Ngoma said.

In all, the bride’s family spent over K200,000 on purchases for the wedding, which included crates of soft drinks, chickens, meat and snacks. Since it was going to be a Christian wedding, there was going to be no alcoholic drinks served at the function.

“From the girl’s side, we were determined to make the wedding a grand success.As I have said earlier, I liked Margie because she was so well behaved and I wanted to make sure she joined her husband a happy wife. Little  did I realise that the whole thing was to end up in disarray.”

Mrs Ngoma further told this writer that what puzzled her even more was that Margaret was actively involved in the preparations for her wedding. For instance, her niece often accompanied her to the shops for purchases of her wedding requirements.

She then recalled that on the eve of the wedding, there came a girl at her home. The visitor, who had just completed her nursing course at the University Teaching Hospital(UTH), was Margaret’s friend and she said she had come to bid farewell  to her niece as she was travelling to Pemba that very morning.

“The  visitor came with a travelling bag. After some time, she bade us farewell and Margie went to escort her. On her return from there, Margie went into the bathroom for a bath. After she had finished everything, she said she was going to Mtendere.

“I didn’t suspect anything because I thought she was going for final rehearsals at the church as she was getting married the following day. In any case, she didn’t carry anything with her for her to raise any suspicion in us.”

According to Mrs Ngoma, Margaret rarely came home late; she was usually home by 18:00 hours. This was why on that Friday, she was surprised that the girl had not pitched up by 19:00 hours. However, she still hoped that the girl might have encountered some  transport problems and that she would still come.

And when she didn’t turn up by 22:00 hours, the impression Mrs Ngoma and her entire family had was that she had slept either at the pastor’s house in Mtendere or at her uncle’s residence on United Nations Avenue, Longacres. But upon learning the following day that she had slept at neither place, the aunt decided to report the matter  to the police in case something happened to her.

Meanwhile,back at Mrs Ngoma’s house, the family discovered that Margaret’s clothes were missing from her bedroom.

The only explanation was that she must have stuffed her clothes in the friend’s travelling bag  the previous day.

The discovery necessarily created speculations that the missing girl might have run away with another man.  “After satisfying myself that my niece was missing, I drove to Mtendere to inform the pastor that I had no idea where she was. The message was communicated to the groom who was asked whether he had differed with his bride.

“David said there were no such differences with his fiancee and that he was surprised that she had not turned up for the wedding. Hoping that the girl might nevertheless pitch up, I asked the pastor to postpone the weddding to 14:00 hours.

“I then drove back to Libala to check if Margie had now arrived but she hadn’t. I returned to Mtendere to inform the pastor that I had drawn a blank. It was then that the pastor broke the shattering news to the anxiously waiting crowd that the wedding had been called off.”

NEXT THURSDAY: MARGARET EXPLAINS WHY SHE DITCHED HER FIANCE AT THE ELEVENTH HOUR.  DON’T  MISS IT!

The author is a Lusaka-based media consultant, recipient of the 1978 Best News Reporter of the Year Award and a former diplomat in South Africa and Botswana. For comments, sms 0977425827/0967146485 or email:pchirwa2009@yahoo.com.

FOOTNOTE: FOLLOWING PERSISTENT REQUESTS FROM FANS OF THIS COLUMN AND THOSE OF MY PREVIOUS  COLUMN CALLED “THIS LIFE” PUBLISHED IN THE SUNDAY MAIL IN THE 1980’S AND 1990’S,  I AM HAPPY TO INFORM MY READERS THAT I HAVE COMPLETED  COMPILING SOME OF THE “JUICY” STORIES IN BOOK FORM. ANY FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTION TOWARDS THE PRINTING COSTS OF THIS PROJECT WILL BE HIGHLY APPRECIATED.  NO CONTRIBUTION IS TOO SMALL. FOR ENQUIRIES, SMS THE AUTHOR AT THE ABOVE-MENTIONED CONTACT NUMBERS.

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