Ordinarily one would not think of conducting a wedding at a grave site.
It would perhaps be considered as a bad omen to the new life that the two had chosen to start.
For Marco Bigi and his wife Lara Crippa, a renewal of vows at the grave site of Giriama warrior Mekatilili wa Menza in Bungale, Magarini district is the ultimate expression of gratitude for the new culture that they have been assimilated into.
The Italian couple were first married at a small wedding ceremony that involved close friends and family members in Milan, Italy twenty years ago.
“At that time we were young and did not have the funds to have a very big wedding and I had been toying with the idea of remarriage since 2006,” said Bigi
When they first came to Malindi for winter holiday in 2010 Bigi and his wife were intrigued by the warmth culture and reception of the local Giriama people.
They took time to learn more about the Mijikenda culture once they returned to Italy from friends and acquaintances that lived in Malindi.
“He wanted to surprise me with another wedding but last winter I asked him if we could get married again and we agreed to do so in the Giriama culture that we had grown to love over the years and that was so different from the distant European culture,” Lara said.
Before the two could go on with their plans to tie the knot which they started in June this year, they had to be assimilated into the Giriama culture.
The colourful initiation ceremony took place at the Mekatilili wa Menza cultural resource center in Malindi on Friday where Kaya elders and members of the Malindi district cultural association welcomed the two into the Giriama fold.
First they selected the names of their clans and sub clans before choosing their surnames and finally their own names before they were blessed by the Kaya elders.
Marco Bigi who now hails from the Giriama clan of Mumbi lulu was given the name Yongo Bembera and his wife Lara Crippa who is of the waprwa clan named Karembo fondo.
Dressed in Giriama traditional regalia, Bigi was taken into a separate hut from his wife as the wedding celebrations began to signify the different clans and families the two had come from before they were joined in matrimony.
There was song and dance as the groom was brought out of the hut by his family members and escorted to the home of his bride where he brought gifts for the in laws.
After a brief ceremony where the couple was blessed by the elders the two were ushered into the new home with jubilation.
In an interview the spokesman of the Giriama elders in Malindi Joseph Mwarandu said that the elders had assimilated several European couples into their culture and also conducted inter-racial wedding ceremonies.
“We have had people who have accused us of selling of our heritage to foreigners and that we are commercializing our culture but when people come to learn of our culture and go back to their homes they are able to identify with these roots and diminish ideologies that African culture is uncivilised,” he said
The couple who has an eighteen year old son back in Italy say there is need for cultural heritage to be passed onto to younger generations so that it is not forgotten and to give them their identity.
“It feels good to be a Giriama and humbling when people open their doors and assimilate you into their culture without any reservations,” said the teary Lara who was overcome by emotion
Mr Bigi who is a musician and produce said that the couple would be looking to stay for several months in Kenya from December and probably finally settle here.
“We have no immediate plans for a honeymoon maybe we take time in September and go to Italy to visit our son maybe we can even have him come and be assimilated into our new culture and be called Kazungu Yongo,” he said