African Wedding: Traditions relayed by who really knows!
Today let’s go through African Wedding as it is in Cameroon and related by my friend Aude who is definitely adopted by Europe but still she is strongly attached to her wonderful traditions rich of love and simplicity.
Africa is such a huge continent that is difficult to describe.
It’s an ocean, a planet in its own, a varied and rich cosmos.
Some choose to make it “big” and others prefer a private ceremony.
There are some who decide to live it in a faraway beach or in the eccentric Las Vegas…
However, the Wedding day is the most beautiful day of our lives and whatever we decide to do, it has to be perfect!
AFRICAN WEDDING | UNBREAKABLE UNION
African wedding does not only put together a man and a woman but also their respective families; it’s an unbreakable and sacred union.
Sometimes, they casually meet and decide to get married but it can happen that the man asks to his parents to find a good girl for him to marry.
In both cases, as soon as they get to know each other and decide to move on to marriage, a meeting is organized in order to gather the two families and allow them to start strong relationships.
AFRICAN WEDDING | “KNOCKING AT THE DOOR”
The meeting day has come: the future groom and his family go to the fiancé’s family house.
According to the traditions, the man’s father asks to the woman’s father in a metaphoric way if his son could take in marriage their daughter.
He could say it in many different ways: “Going around, I noticed wonderful flowers inside your garden and I would like to have some to embellish my own”; “I saw that you have attractive hens, can I ask you one for my yard?”
At this point, the future bride’s father, the chief of the family answers “Which one of my hens are you interested in?” They go on in describing the lady.
It can happen that the lady’s father calls a girl to show her to the man and his family; she comes veiled so that she can’t be recognized. When the guy unveils her and discovers that she is not the one, the father of the lady asks for money in order to go and find the right one.
Sometimes, this game can go on two or three times with different girls.
When the father finally shows the right girl, he gives to the man’s father a list of items that his family wants before allowing their daughter to get marry.
Sometimes the lady’s family asks for symbolic gifts; others ask nothing but the assurance that the guy is going to take good care of their daughter but there are some families who ask cars, animals, big pots, furniture and other expensive things.
In some cases, families negotiate! For example two cows instead of five; in other cases, the father of the future bride is inflexible and doesn’t accept to give his daughter in marriage unless he receives all the gifts written on the list.
AFRICAN WEDDING | “BRIDE PRICE”
After that meeting, follows another one where the man’s family deliver the well-known bride price to the family of the lady, means all the items asked on the list. Actually, those gifts are for the future newly married but only for the bride’s family!
During this ceremony, the future married exchange a goblet of Raphia wine while their parents share kola nuts and dring the Raphia wine left.
This is an important rite because it means that the relationship they are building will last forever, it’s irreversible.
AFRICAN WEDDING | TRADITION, CIVIL, CHRISTIAN
The Cameroonian African wedding is divided into three parts: Traditional, Civil and then celebrated in church for those who are Christians.
After the traditional marriage, it can take 2 days, 2 months or 1 year to the civil wedding; between the civil marriage and the one celebrated in church, usually there is maximum one week.
The day where the man’s family brings gifts to the in-laws is considered as the traditional wedding and between negotiations, buffet and dances; the ceremony goes on for an entire day.
The civil wedding takes place in the morning, usually before midday. For those who intend to continue with the wedding in church, it is followed by a cocktail prepared by families and friends.
In this case, the proper party is fixed on the evening of the day where they celebrate the Christian wedding.
Meanwhile, those who don’t celebrate the Christian wedding prefer to organize a party the same day of the civil mariage.
The guests go back home after the civil service and meet together in the evening at the party location where the will taste all the meals prepared with love and simplicity by the families. The party goes on the whole night with music and dance.
AFRICAN WEDDING | CUSTOMS AND CURIOSITY
The bride is brought to the altar by her father; if the father is no more, the chief of the family (usually an uncle) is in charge of it.
Done with the ceremony, the married going out from the hall are whooped with coloured confetti. Rice is not used there because it’s an important aliment that can’t be wasted like this. Il riso, infatti, non viene utilizzato perché rappresenta un alimento importante che non va sprecato.
“In Europe, and more again in America, individualism is appreciated.
In Africa in the contrary, it’s synonym of shame and curse; African tradition is collective because staying together has always been the best way to face natural challenges.
One of the conditions to persiste in the group in to share all you possess.