When it comes to weddings in Burkina Faso if you are young and from a well-to-do family, it is hard to identify with a marriage that is not a court wedding, a white wedding or a traditional wedding.
Ouagadougou is the capital of Burkina Faso. It is an African country. There are a population of over 2 million people in Burkina Faso.
It is the administrative, cultural, communications centre of the nation. This is where the business happens. The city is shortened to Ouaga and those who live in Ouga are called Ouagalais.
Come with us to Burkina Faso and see how young girls view marriages.
Marriage in Burkina Faso
One of the most common knowledge about Burkina Faso is the fact that child marriages are very common. Many women get married as teenagers. Some girls in Burkinabè ethnic group get married as young as 13.
A large part of Burkina Faso is nomadic by nature. One of the advantages of people from this area of Burkina Faso is that they marry young and marry within the extended family. At least people from the Peulhs community, other communities have agreed that marrying cousins is not something they should be doing.
The Mossis community goes as far as marrying a thirteen-year-old to a man who is over fifty years old. The girls do not even have the privilege of knowing they are getting married until it is the afternoon of their wedding.
It is a very unusual tradition that has the girl shrieking and crying, her friends follow suit. They bring her dowry to her. The dowry consists of brightly dyed pieces of clothing that represent her wedding gifts.
Her friends stop to view the brightly coloured material called pagnes. The girl only stops crying when her father comes over to beat her to stop her crying.
They take her to a hut and apply makeup and henna, then she is taken on a motorcycle to her husband’s village.
Women are sometimes stolen
Sometimes a man who lives in the area will kidnap a woman. He will take her away and return her back to her family after a few days. Of course, when she returns, no one expects that she is still a virgin.
The rumours that follow her kidnapping will destroy her and it is expected that she will marry her kidnapper to retain her honour. As a Burkinabe woman, how do you win with such traditions?
Weddings are considered major events in Burkina Faso villages. The people in the village look up to them for weeks. A party is a place to eat, party, and have ‘meet and greets‘ with friends and relatives.
Everyone wears their best clothes and they buy pagnes (dyed pieces of clothing) and have a great time. Weddings can last as long as three days to a week. Many weddings happen in the village.
The process of a Burkina Faso Wedding
This is the process of a wedding in Burkina Faso.
All the women dress up in their finest and pound millet for the wedding. A group of musicians gather and play drums and flutes.
They pound the millets and turn around the mortars in a circle. The women toss heavy wooden staffs as a substitute for pestles. They clap their hands and catch them again. This is to show their joy at the happy event.
The end product is a thick millet dough that they serve with different sauces. They serve it to their guests’ morning, noon and night.
The bride makes an appearance from the bride’s hut. This is a hut where the bride is housed and surrounded by her friends. There are many women gathered around a mat in front of the door probably protecting the bride.
The bride comes out sporting a brightly coloured pagne wrapped around her waist. There is another pagne draped on her head. The bride is often weeping.
Sudden Violence from other women
Suddenly one of the women tears off the pagne from her head so she is standing almost naked. She is still covering her face and weeping. Suddenly another woman attacked the bride and threw her down to the ground.
Soon three more women are on top of the bride and forcefully putting new shoes on her feet. The crowd appear excited at the bride’s experience. She kicks, struggles, and begins to chant.
No African woman should smile at her wedding
Unbelievably, this is part of the ceremony. In Burkina Faso, no African woman is meant to smile at her wedding. The display of violence is always surprising for those who are witnessing it for the first time.
They pick the bride and carry her slowly to the neighbourhood where her husband lives. All the women take turns carrying her.
The women resume pounding the millet. There is still music and endless dancing. Sometimes the wedding celebration continues after the third day.
The groom often has no role. He is sometimes absent and may not see his bride for several months. The people of Burkina Faso have a generous spirit and love to give gifts.
The groom does not appear until the ceremony is over. The ceremony often takes as much as seven days. If the ceremony ends on the seventh day, then the groom arrives on the seventh day to take his bride home.
The bride wears a special veil indicating that she is a married woman and not single. She cries the whole time to show the friends, family and other guests that she is unhappy at leaving her family alone.
The family of the bride is responsible for organizing the wedding festivities. She displays impeccable judgment in the purchase of remarkable cookware sets. This also shows her wealth and status to everyone who has come to celebrate with them.
Overall, the most surprising act about the Burkina Faso weddings is the acts of violence. Probably they are giving her a reason to cry since it is impossible to maintain the act of crying for that long.
It is hard to imagine that the beautiful young bride does not get injured in the process. Then a turnabout and the women now take turns carrying her on their back. It would be interesting to interview these women and discover the history of Burkina Faso weddings and why they do what they do.
Have you ever witnessed a Burkina Faso wedding?