Saturday, 7 February 2009


Continuing the saga of Yoruba engagements/weddings. Before I dive into the next chapter I want to explain why I always say:"engagements/weddings". In days gone by it was the accepted way to get married according to the traditions of the Yoruba people. That was prior to registry or church wedding. Now this event and all which leads up to it is regarded as the official engagement. But as an engagement it is slightly nonsensical, as it is usually held the day before the "real" wedding, at most a week before. No matter, traditions like this should be kept for the sheer joy of the occasion.


The first hurdle has been jumped. Now the girl's father is informed, who in turn will inform the head of the extended family, who is the most senior male. Then a date for the wedding will be considered and eventually agreed upon by all. Now the girl's family too will hire an alaga to represent them in the meetings ahead.


Next of course there will be discussions on what to wear, what colours should be chosen. The traditional dress for women consists of iro and buba, gele and iborun. That is a full length wrapper, blouse, headtie and an additional length of fabric to be worn around the waist. The first two items are usually made out of Swiss lace, the others could be brocade or damask. But more and more people choose aso-oke, which is a traditional handwoven fabric made on a narrow loom. Because the demand is high for wider fabrics a lot of weavers are now using wide looms in addition. 


Having decided on the colours a reputable weaver has to be found. Apart from colour the pattern and the yarn has to be chosen. Now the weaver will produce a sample which when satisfactory will be ordered in full. And that will be lots! It is expected that each female member of the extended family will want at least one of the items and the men use the narrow fabric to make their caps. The wearing of the same headtie / cap is known as aso-ebi. Thus on big occasions everyone immediately knows who belongs to which family! 


Shopping is now very high on the agenda. The lace has to be found for dad and mom. The girl's outfit will be provided by the groom's parents, because they too have to wear the same fabric to denote their impending unity. Next are shoes and bag to match - very high priority!


Venues will be scoured if the bride's home cannot accomodate the guests (often in excess of 200). Caterers and decorators must be found as well as a printer for the invitations and programmes! A professional letter writer has to be sourced because this person is of vital importance!

More next time.

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