A typical African wedding is full. There are many people – some you can recognize and others who are the parent’s friends, friends of friends, plus one’s and neighbors who overheard about the occasion who also came with neighbors. I am a Nigerian, and over here weddings are equally a statement. Any opportunity to show off culture is usually taken seriously. Geles are crowns that sit colorfully on the ladies’ head and asoebi make a perfect blend of color and style.
There is music in the background and lots of dance. The couple would dance in and out with friends to commemorate the joyful moment. The people present would exchange hugs and greetings and the flashing of photographers catches the eye as everything must be properly documented. The MC offers coordination alongside some comic relief.
The joining of two families includes the paying of dowry and bride price. (They say bride price is the amount paid by the groom’s family before getting married, while dowry is what the bride brings into the marriage) And the presentation of items of the marriage list previously given to the groom. There may be a small drag here as both families agrees that the items presented are of quality and the right quantity. This is how a couple is joined traditionally before moving on to the western adopted tradition of the white wedding if they wish.
The strong religious presence cannot be left out as rarely would you find a family who is not rooted in the service of a deity, or a mix of one or two. In fact, the white wedding is usually in church, hence the importance as the couple would be prayed over and officially announced as man and wife. (They are also joined legally before hand or in church if it has been approved by the state)
And the most important of them all, the food.
You dare not gather people in their number without making adequate provision for varieties to eat. Food will be the major thing used to rate the event. Not just the presence of it, but the coordination and honor to which it is served according to hierarchy. Everyone may sit on round tables but there is a difference in class and status which must be duly acknowledged.
The pastors, leaders of communities, tribal leaders, bosses and CEOs are a few people on the long list of those who will properly get extra food in coolers with extra meat. These ones will get carton drinks and extra bottles of wine. They would be given priority while serving and if peradventure they decide to leave early, ushers will be assigned to mark them and hand them their souvenirs.
I have also come to notice that it appears to be a quality of a good African wife to ensure her husband gets fed at such events. People like me would hardly ‘hustle’ for food except it is passed on my table, this looks like my future husband will most likely also be hungry. (Or I could pack a meal from home).
On a serious note, it is wise to eat before leaving home . If you happen to be an usher or a server, before serving starts please grab yourself a plate. This is coming from a well of experience of having the zeal to serve but lacking the wisdom thereof. Countless times I have worked myself over and carried my empty belly home to sleep. I already paid the price on your behalf, learn of me.
I never understood the loudness of weddings over here. I have threatened my parent countless times of how I would just go to a registry and come back with a certificate as proof of my marriage union. I have also played around the idea of eloping but that did not sit too long in my head. In Africa, we rarely run off with the ones we love. That is meant for the western world and soap operas. We are too big on family for that.
There are layers of family involvement before officially tying the knot and this involvement continues afterwards. It is a typical you can run but you cannot hide situation. Running away is a terrible idea. Carry your people along.
The loudness of weddings is for a reason, I mean marriage is a big deal. If we were to look at it scripturally, two people are coming together to chase their ten thousands and that is powerful. Your exes and admirers now know you are officially off the market.
It gives a general sense of accountability. The presence of community makes it easy to recognize if either one is cheating and involving families makes it easier to settle conflict. All these have their disadvantages but that is a story for another day.
Please let me know your wedding experiences in the comment section below.
Thank you so much for reading. Please like, comment and subscribe. Lots of love, Victory
Gele – A traditional Nigerian headwrap usually worn for special occasions
Asoebi – A uniform fabric shared among friends or family also used for special occasions in Nigeria