North Africa: The Daughter Of a Sultan Ties The Knot

North Africa: The Daughter Of a Sultan Ties The Knot

So… what does a real Sudanese wedding look like? As it turns out there’s one about to happen in Goz Beida just south of camp. The daughter of the Sultan is going to tie the knot. The entire town turns out to celebrate. They even bring out a few musical instruments and everyone is dancing the traditional TomTom complete with long-handled fans. The older people love this part. Everyone seems to be enjoying the spectacle. It doesn’t hurt that they may go home a
little wealthier than they came. The soldiers are all from the groom’s side of the family. Turns out the Sultan’s daughter is marrying the son of a general. But the real preparation started weeks ago when several dozen members of the bride’s
extended family arrived from the capitol to help. The Sultan rented them a house and quickly built a wall around it to protect them from prying eyes. Piles of raw ingredients were delivered and they began to prepare a feast. Because the Sunnis have large and extended families the guest list can run to several hundred people. That’s not good news for the local chickens. The highlight of the feast will be
a huge pot of assorted meats and other delicacies. There are also gifts some for the bride and some to hand out to guests. The host’s reputation will depend
on how much money he spends. Happily for him this is a Muslim country so technically he doesn’t have to spring for alcohol. The bride herself is nowhere to be seen. She’s off getting scrubbed and bathed and covered in scented oils. The groom provides the wedding bed and the women cover it with tasty treats. Back at the Sultan’s house the public celebration is finally coming to an end. It’s time to head out to a rented courtyard for more private dance with family and friends. The general kindly provides the transportation. Unfortunately, they’re way behind schedule and still setting up the all-important lights and music. And it’s about to rain. Some guests have arrived early. The lucky ones are under awnings. The rest are just going to get wet. At least the bridal party is warm
and dry inside a nearby house. For most of the women this is their one chance to wear their fanciest clothes and high-heeled shoes, henna their hands, and show off any accessories they own. Though the weather is making a mess of things. They finally decide to fix the dance floor though for some it’s already too late. At last the groom is here. Three hours late. He doesn’t dance. But he does do periodic victory laps. He also hands out a lot of cash. His entourage come with their own accessories. The singer in his band have their
share of loyal fans as well. The women don’t have to wait
to be asked to dance mostly because they’re not dancing with the men. Though as time goes on things get more and more risque. It’s the Sudanese equivalent of dirty dancing. Suddenly the bride arrives. They cover her from head to toe and the groom helps her to her seat. What little you can see of her is beautifully decorated. Eventually she’s allowed to show her face. She must be a little overwhelmed. She’s only just turned 15 and she’s barely met her future husband. All too soon is time for her to leave again. In slow motion. Her snapping fingers are the only hint
that she’d really like to stay and dance. Once she’s gone her female relatives can finally show themselves. They make quite an entrance in the hopes that they too might one day catch a man. By midnight the dance is over and the next morning the
women are back at their daily chores. They still have to finish preparing the big feast and serve it to the men. The guys have been busy working
up an appetite since early morning. They’ll eat first. The women get whatever might be left over. But first they have over 500 mouths to feed. Last night must already
feel like a distant memory.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

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