The second day of the Christian wedding;
It was supposed to start at 11AM, and it was announced to be there at 10:30. We arrived at 11 supposing everyone to be later. We were about the 10th person to arrive. The church ceremony was in the outside tin-roofed structure. It holds more people and isn’t as hot. People slowly filtered in to the “hangar”. We were the guests of honor since we are good friends with both sides of the family and had come the farthest. We were seated on the groom’s side in the second row. Slowly people came. At the beginning, a bible boy and flower girl came down the isle. The flower girl was spreading little hole punches of white and pink paper, as the flowers. She ceremoniously spread them all over the red carpet that went up the middle between the white plastic lawn chairs that had been moved from the previous site to here. There are a defined number of these in town, so any event requires borrowing them from the school, mayors office, sous prefet… to get enough to have a large crowd sit down in one place.
After these entered then teenaged boys and girls danced their way in, on the red carpet down the center. The music was a classical march on the speakers. A small step forward with the left foot. Shake the right foot out in front of you. Boy and girl face each other, the girl bows, she rises then twirls facing away. Grasps hands with the boy behind her, and does a few right foot pumps in the air about a foot off the ground. Then twirl back to him, and grasp hands again and make an arch with their arms. Then forward one step and REPEAT…. Till they have arrived at their designated seat along the isle. They all join hands across the isle and make an arch that the bride walks through with her one bridesmaid. She arrives in a small red Toyota four-door car. It has been decorated with pink toilet paper ribbons and toilet paper flowers. All stand. She slowly walks down the isle underneath the arch of arms, to a tune by Enya, tripping over her long white gown periodically. Arriving at the front of the arch her groom meets her. Everyone sits down. The bride and groom are sitting on chairs facing each other in the front. They have been decorated with a shiny white cloth and some toilet paper flowers. A row of balloons crosses the front of the stage, and a gust of wind rips it off at one corner, making a trail of balloons fall to the side. There is an audible gasp, but all continues as planned. The maid of honor and best man are on chairs directly behind the groom and bride.
The service continues with music by several choirs, some visiting from Maroua, about three hours away, where the bride is going to her last year of high-school, very uncommon for a local girl to make it through high school. Here there are about 100 that graduate each year. About two are girls, and usually one if from the south, as her parents are here as teachers, or government officials. The choirs end their songs, and the pastor has a short sermonette about love and working out differences and being faithful to each other for the rest of their lives. They each say rehearsed vows. Rings are exchanged as a symbol of their unity. And they march out to the car decorated in toilet paper.
They head out to the reception that is to follow by invitation. Food and drinks for MANY people. We are seated under the circular tin roof with all the important people and the married couple and their close family. Food consists of chicken, beef, goat meat, plain noodles, salad with dressing, popcorn, a green bitter vegetable, fried plantains, boiled taro root, fried sweet potatoes. All eat till they are full. When the foods done, everyone leaves. The family looks tired. Audrey, Sarah and I get on the small motorcycle and we head home. G