Monday, October 25, 2010
The dowry is set. Traditionally it used to be in a requested number of grams of rough gold and livestock. Nowadays, the cash is set in CFA Francs. The average cash dowry is no more than CFA 100,000 -approximately $225- a symbolic amount paid to the bride on behalf of the groom. The bride will also receive lose fabric, usually yards of wax print material. Her family may also request a cow for her fathers -the bride's father and her paternal uncles- which, after tough bargaining may be paid in nature or the equivalent value given in cash.
The bride's family will request a boubou -big traditional outfit- for her father or a respected uncle. Similarly, the mother(s) of the bride -her mother, mother sister wife and her aunts- will be given lose fabric or cash as a marriage gift.
Once an agreement has been reach in the negotiations, then the bride's hand is officially given in marriage.
This marriage contract does not get into the determination of what is expected of the partners as husband and wife. Instead, the rights and duties are presumed understood and may be reiterated in the family's advices to their son or daughter and during the blessing portion of the ceremony.
The "tying of the knots" usually precedes other ceremonies such as the "head washing" we cover in a previous post.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
A woman then handed her the towel, she patted all the washed areas dry. Sitting in the circle with her head covered back with the topa scarf, Mariama could hear the women clapping and singing a several songs over her. She barely heard what they were saying. She felt in a sort of out of body experience. All she felt for sure was the excitement that she would be soon with her new husband.
The women slowly walked her back to her mother's room. From there, after dinner, she'll be taken to a house a couple of streets away. A room has been prepared for her and her new husband for the next seven nights and six days so they may spend time together. They'll be catered to, visited by family and friend's and the celebration will continue around town until then. They will get to know each other personally, physically and emotionally. It's her family's wish that the early morning hours of that first night, the matron comes out with a blood stained white sheet to announce that she had saved herself for marriage.
In the next post, we'll address the tying of the knots.