Monday, April 16, 2007

Traditional wedding

Most international volunteers who are here for any length of time have a Cameroonian friend, this friend who expects nothing from us and gives plenty. Helps us not get ripped off and generally shows us the ropes. In our case it is of course Didimus, for Bill it is Hans. On Saturday Hans' brother was getting married in Canada to a fellow Cameroonian who lives in the States. So as they held their wedding in Canada we had a traditional wedding here in Cameroon. Hans was standing in as the groom and a sister of the bride was also standing in so it was a marriage by proxy.

Hans is Bakwarian which is the local tribe to Buea, we all went in traditional Bakwari dress. This was pretty easy for me I wore a three piece set I had made not long after arriving, Joe (and Bill) however did not have any traditional dress. So off we went to the market and bought Joe some material to make a loin, he had a plain white shirt and needed a hat. With no one to help us we actually ended up getting a hat from a North West tribe, nobody minded and were really chuffed we had made the effort.

The wedding was due to start at 1:30 so we met at Bills house to make sure the loins were tied correctly then on to Hans' brothers house. He has a nice pad just around the corner from Bills place, you almost forget you are in Cameroon when sat in his parlour. A few friends/ family were there including Tata Kingue a popular Cameroon singer. We left the house about 3:00 thinking they would all be waiting for the arrival of the groom at the town hall in Tiko but when we got there, there was something else to wait for. I have not idea what but the wedding started about 6:00pm a nice 4 1/2 hours late (my 45 minutes is nothing in comparison).

Following the ceremony was a little tricky, basically the two Pa's sat in the middle of the room and had it out, we could not hear what they were saying but basically it is weather or not they approve of the marriage. Then four girls are brought one at a time to the father of the groom so he can choose which one his son shall marry. Each one is rejected and the family friend who is bringing them begs for money for transport each time. After the four girls the choir bring in the fifth girl, this is the one to be accepted so the then joins her groom on the state and they dance together. That was about it afterwards we have item 11, fine chop. There was a huge variety of food and after the chairperson announcing there would be no discrimination in the order of feeding we went first after the top table. We then tried to join in the dancing, basically you shrug your shoulders to the music but if you get it slightly wrong you find out you are doing a different tribes dance.


dad said...

Is the marriage by proxy for legal reasons or just to provide a reception/party for the relatives?

Anonymous said...

That's beautiful! I hope you'll give us all a demonstration of how to correctly shrug in time to the music when you're back :)
with prayers
Sharon @ KBC

Hev said...

Dad The marriage by proxy is not 'legal' reasons by Cameroon law but is a very important part of village/tribal traditions that must be observed.

For example if when you first get married you tick the monogamous box then want a second wife legally you cannot do it. However in the village a traditional wedding celebration will regard it as a valid marriage.

So although it is not legal it is a local requirment.

And Sharon I will do my best!!