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The Gambia has a special place in my heart because I spent my holiday in Banjul in 1997 and I fell in love with the small tourist country that has a short strip of coastline bordered by the Atlantic Ocean.
The Wollof traditional marriage begins with 'Guru nuyo' – Cola nut.The groom's family sends 'guru nuyo' or cola nuts to the bride-to-be’s parent to make known their intention to marry their daughter.
If the cola nuts are accepted, real dialogue starts. The bride-to-be's mother will distribute the cola nuts to friends and relatives. Representatives from the groom's family will meet the bride's family to decide on the dowry known as “waarugal' and a date will then be fixed for the traditional marriage.
In the 'taaka ak jeebale' marriage ceremony of the Wollof people, preparation for the wedding might commence three to four days before the actual date.
For The wedding ceremony, the male elders of the bride and groom as well as relatives and friends gather at the mosque or any other designated place.
The bride and groom sit on mats facing each other. The head of the delegation of the groom's family would come with cola nuts and the money: Dalasi 4.25 to tie the knot.
The head of the delegation from the groom's family will reveal their mission - which is to pluck the 'rose flower' in that compound - to the gathered crowd.
And in reply, the head of delegation from the bride's family will ask the crowd if there is anyone who objects to the wedding.
A grandfather or first cousin of the bride might jokingly say that he is against the marriage because the bridegroom snatched his bride from him. He would then ask to be compensated with money. After some jokes, the delegation would accept for the marriage to carry on.
The Imam or his deputy will then lead the prayers mentioning the name of the couple to be joined together. The money sealing the marriage (D4.25) as well as the 'juur' would be handed over to the delegation of the bride's family. The cola nuts would then be shared among everyone present.
On wedding day, the bride might either spend the day with her aunt or stay at home where there will be drumming, dancing and lots of food to eat. At night, before the bride is taken to her husband's house, she is given a traditional bath.
Taking a bride to her husband's house is known as 'jeebale' in Wollof. But before the 'jeebale' the bride's mother would display the trousseau and kitchen utensils she bought for the bride.
Just before the traditional bath, the bride would change her outfit and wear something she would not mind giving away. Some elderly women would lead her to the bathroom where one of her female cousins would be waiting for her. As soon as the bride gets undressed, her cousin would come and take away her clothes and keep them for herself.
During the bath, the bride will sit on a mortar and a gourd will be used to pour water into her hands. She would in turn use that water to rub her body and repeat certain words after the woman at the bath. This ceremonial bath should not be witnessed by a woman who had never gone through it. After the bath, the chief bridesmaid will also go through the same ceremony.
At the courtyard and in the presence of the two families, the bride and her bridesmaid will sit on a mat facing the east to listen to the advice from the elders on how to treat her husband and in-laws and encourage her to emulate the good example of her mother.
Read more about Mandinka and Wollof Traditional Marriage here.
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Flirty & Feisty Romance
Flirty & Feisty Romance
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