Futa Djallon’S marriage party

October 31, 2009
1 min read

JOURNALISM often has its lucky moments; those periods when the reporter chances upon what might seem insignificant but could become a useful story. I had been travelling in the Futa Djallon this cool morning, we lef tthe hotel in Labe, the capital of the Futa Djallon. Our destination was a small village on the fringes of the city where a very revered scholar and historian resides. I got my interview and we were to return to check out of the hotel, when I saw a party of women in a park inside Labe. I told the driver to stop for me to find out just what was happening. The women were all colourfully dressed and they had an  accompanying local group of musicians.There must be some ceremony and indeed there was!

It was a young girl said to be 17years old, who was been serenaded just before she was taken to her husband’s house. Could I take pictures? Well some of the women were not too sure I could, while  others agreed if I would give the party some money. There was some method to the proceedings: a group of two to four women will be in a circle of the entire group of women and they would vigorously dance to the heavy rhythms supplied by the band. The singing was typically call-response and there was synchronized clapping by all the women. That goes on for a couple of minutes and the dancing group retreats for a new set of women and the same process was repeated. This goes on for as long as the group can.

In the meantime, the maiden, who is said to be a virgin, is seated a few meters away from the group and has another woman holding an umbrella on her head. The umbrella is festooned with currency notes and there was no doubt that she was at the heart of the ceremony. I moved close and sought permission to take a picture of her; she refused. I offered to pay just asothers had been giving her money, but she was not yielding. Even her chaperon gently encouraged her to accept to take the picture but each time I tried to take the pictures she would cover her face.That went on for as long as we were there on that spot. I took pictures but did not get a shot of the maiden’s face. Of course I knew that this wasFulbe country and modesty is at the heart of the culture.

The lady wanted only her husband to see her face and even an ‘intrusive’ journalist’s camera will not change that fact! That is how things are done in the Futa Djallon! There is a continued fidelity to culture and that much I saw with the marriage party I encounteredin Labe, the capital of the Futa Djallon.

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