Thursday, 9 June 2011

My first Nigerian wedding

My friend and former colleague Hamzy, invited me to a wedding; in true African style I had never met the Bride or the Groom but I had met Ismail one of the groom’s brothers. The wedding was in Lagos so I went with Mike, a Lagos based VSO volunteer, and had a wonderful day thanks to Hamzy and Ismail’s family going out of their way to make us welcome and include us in this special day.

Me and Hamzy
All I knew from Hamzy was that the wedding was in Lagos, and it was on Sunday 29th May. So off I went to Lagos, (since this coincided with the day of the Presidential Inauguration the VSO security advice was to “lie low” whatever that means). The previous day, Hamzy  texted me the address of the wedding and told me it started at 9am! I said are you serious Hamzy, 9am, he said yes don’t be late. Mike and I decided to leave his house at 9am and aim to arrive at 10

10 o'clock!
Now we get the programme it says start at 10am, not 9 Hamzy!


When we finally got the programmes we saw that the official start time was 10am, my learning from this is to arrive at least 90 minutes late to weddings in future.

So the wedding was an Islamic and Yoruba wedding, my second Islamic wedding and first Nigerian wedding. The Islamic bit was first and to my surprise a lot of the audience / congregation or whatever the term is were chatting while the Imam was officiating, even the Imam received a call on his mobile during the ceremony.


  Then the Yoruba part, first a change of dress into rather grand costumes, then we (I have become a friend of the bridegroom) had to dance our way into the ceremony. During this we had to produce a lot of money, in fact the whole currency, ie one of every Nigerian note, (fortunately the highest note is Naira 1000, about GBP 4, there are no coins) Mike had a few US dollars which helped. (Being a wedding guest is expensive in Nigeria – go with lots of money!)
Groom and mother dancing

Lots of Naira

 Eventually after dancing a lot and providing the whole currency we “made it” into the room where the groom and his male friends had to beg the bride’s family for the bride.


Then greeting the groom’s family and seeking marital blessings!

 Well it looks like it worked as here they are together.

Happy couple

It was wonderful to be a part of this, and to be appreciated for being a part of it. I had phone calls from Hamzy and Ismail afterwards thanking us. A little insight into another culture, and I now know how to dance like a Yoruba man! 

So thank you, Hamzy, Ismail and family, and thank you Nigeria!

More photos here

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