by Lucas Togan
…if we as a people refuse to do away completely with the borrowed culture of “white wedding” we should at the very least relegate it to Thursdays and promote the “real wedding”, our wedding, to Saturdays
Of the many generic things wrong with the sub-Saharan African the one irking me the most right now is the relegation of our tradition to the back burner and letting imported culture of the West take preeminence.
I was in Ado-Ekiti (The capital of Ekiti state in South West, Nigeria) penultimate weekend to witness the wedding ceremony of a close friend. He had earlier told me that he had cancelled the “white wedding” and that it was going to be only registry at the court and traditional ceremony. As expected, I had promptly asked if the lady was pregnant or whatever his reason was for cancelling the “white wedding”. As I would learn she was not knocked up. He just did not want it. PERIOD!
That set me to thinking: I am all for original, self-generated and self-involved actions. I am totally sold to people, ideas and actions that are unaffected by society, rules or norms.
I spent the entire week leading to the wedding wondering why Africans (especially those living on the continent) bother with “white wedding?” I cannot remember the last wedding I attended that I did not have to buy aso ebi. Aso ebi is a Nigerian thing, where people attending the same function (usually weddings, funerals, birthdays and the like) purchase a fabric and wear it to the function. It is usually worn by family and close friends. At weddings however, the people who wear English clothes usually include the couple, the members of the train and a few of the guests. I make bold to say 90% of the guests appear in one form of traditional attire or the other. This begs the question – what is “white” about a white wedding? Maybe the bridal gown.
What gnaws at me the most is not the practice in itself but the fact that our traditional wedding (the real wedding) which we understand very well is now termed “engagement” and the imported culture is called “wedding,”.
Back to my Ado-Ekiti experience. That Saturday because there was no church proceedings involved, the couple had the liberty to choose a 12pm commencement. This is obviously the same time most guests (who never attend the church for the blessings anyway) arrive to take plush seats at “white wedding” reception venues. It was a most memorable experience personally because it showcased the wealth of the Yoruba culture. Being a Saturday, most people made it to the venue. There was no expensive wedding dress to be returned for half the price (at best), instead there was an expensive lace combination that the bride can wear again to any august occasion. There was no culture war in the pictures. They picked an aso ebi that rhymed and complemented every part of the occasion. For the first time anyone in attendance who wasn’t dressed in traditional attire would have felt out of place.
What I picked from the trip is that– if we as a people refuse to do away completely with the borrowed culture of “white wedding” we should at the very least relegate it to Thursdays and promote the “real wedding”, our wedding, to Saturdays. I believe we can always make arrangement for the Man-of-God to bless our union at whatever venue we choose on Saturday (after all the good book says, “where two or more are gathered in my name there I am with them”) where we celebrate a truly African nuptial that showcases our heritage.
There are so many things we’ve borrowed from the west and benefited immensely from but this is not and should not be one of them.
SPARK! Let’s change it!–
“Everything has a price.”