Monday, October 04, 2010

A Tuareg wedding - the transfer

After the food we went back across the street to spend more time with the Bride. We got some fun shots with some more of the girls outside her little hideaway house too!

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Then we went inside. It was around 4pm i think. We sat and showed Aminata a bunch of our photos. She could at least enjoy her own party vicariously through the photos! She really loved seeing them.

weddingnight05-2Eventually one by one all of her other friends dropped away until it was just us three white girls sitting in the hot cement room with the bride. We knew it was another few hours until they expected the groom’s party to come for her and it was sad to see that if we weren't there she would have been alone. Or maybe it was because we were there that her other friends felt it would be ok to leave her? At any rate, the night got dark and we told stories and made jokes about sneaking her out for a slurpee run.

I know this picture is awful. I didn’t try anything fancy on it because it shows exactly how we were! We were sitting in the dark for over an hour. The sun had set, the room had no lights and we continued to sit with the bride, quietly talking while we waited to see what would happen next. Again, it just really blew away out preconceived notions of what a wedding would be like.

weddingnight04-2Suddenly there was a flurry of activity. Many of her friends returned at once and whisked her away to a neighbours house that had lights in one room. They all had changed into their fancy shiny outfits made out of bazain material (pronounced bah-zen) Aminata showered (good thing- she was sweaty all day!) and changed into a traditional Tuareg wedding outfit. Women all crammed into the room and it was a loud jumble of laughter, noise, etc. Everyone shared their makeup and applied way too much scented body spray, eyeliner, and ghoulish thick dark lipstick.  weddingnight10-2Thankfully someone had let me know they changed into their fancy outfits and I had brought my one along! And looks like I fit right in with the purple color many seemed to love. We didn’t even plan that!

weddingnight09-2They carefully applied makeup to Aminata and this was the first time she really started to look happy and excited. We could finally see her hair and face too! She was so lovely. It was hard to get true portraits with everyone all over the place and she was still shy.weddingnight08-2

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After she was all ready to go and our whole wedding party smelled like a perfume factory gone bad, we all went outside and across the street to her house. She went inside the hut to wait and we all sat outside. They served us leftover Moxfe and as Katherine would say “Lucky us”.    We chatted and waited for a delegation of the husband’s friends to arrive.

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And finally around 8:30pm they did! The main guy went straight to the hut and tried to get open the door. The women slammed it in his face and held it shut and wouldn’t let him get to the bride. It appears he had to pay a small fee to the friends in order to let the bride go! Some women took him to a corner and after they were pleased with the amount of money that changed hands, they led him to the hut.

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The bride was led out of the hut and into waiting vehicles. She was completely draped in a white veil with a darker layer underneath and she couldn’t see a thing. They had to lead her around like a blind woman! Many people piled into many vehicles. (Mine included- some even wanted to hang on to the roof to ensure they got a ride!)

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When we got to the Bride’s new house (A tiny cement two bedroom house that had electricity!) we were in for another surprise. The Groom was nowhere to be found! Some of the Tuareg women explained this was not at all the norm and that he should be there. An hour or more of hilarous/confusing/angry shouting ensued. Some of it seemed in good jest, but yet they kept refusing the let the groom come. They didn’t want money or a traditional bribe or anything either. The poor bride sat there on the bed (middle left in the picture) and sweated some more and waited. At one point us women threatened to stage a sit in. We weren’t leaving her alone until her husband came to claim her! I even got a rousing chant of “On est la! On est la!” (we are here!) started that had everyone laughing. In the end, some of the women gave in and decided some of us should leave. Maybe the groom was shy? They said he didn’t want to show up with so many people there. Apparently he did eventually come…

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So at 10:30 pm we left with a group of women. Feeling wholly unsatisfied that she was there and we hadn’t actually delivered her to her husband.

With so many language and voices flying we couldn't keep track of what was all going on. One of my favorite pictures of the night part? Rebecca and Katherine- all sweaty and hot and tired with no clue what was going on. Total confusion. I’m with ya girls!

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4 comments :

Judy said...

Wow! Sounds fascinating and exciting and a great picture of their culture! Thanks Chantelle for letting us see into this piece of Niger!

Di said...

I have loved reading your accounts of the wedding. Makes me wonder what a Tuareg woman would write if they were in North America writing about our wedding celebrations. Thank you for sharing and for the awesome photos.

Madi said...

I'm studying the Tuareg people for a school projects, I was wondering what some of their jobs are, home life, ANYTHING! There seems to be no good info on the internet that I can find. It might just be eluding me.. Any info would be great!!!!

Chantelle said...

Madi I would love to help you, but you have to leave me an email address or some way to contact you!