The bride scooping palm oil
Well, now we’ve been to both a traditional Kom funeral and a traditional Kom wedding.
I think we all liked the wedding more.
So, it all started like this: Simon had some friends who were getting married and who were holding their traditional Kom wedding in the near future; he invited us to attend and we accepted (of course). The night prior to the festivities, we had stayed at Stephen’s house after having a giant Mexican food dinner with Stephen, Alina, our new Peace Corps friend, Eric—we had met him the night before at his going away party where we had a great dinner of fried fish, mayo, pepper sauces, and fermented cassava root—, and five Peace Corps trainees who were shadowing our other Peace Corps acquaintances for a few days.
Anyway, on the morning of June 27, we all gathered at the office (the four of us from Nourish, Stephen, and Abdallah), got changed, and hopped on some motorcycle taxis—with helmets, too! Don’t worry parents/guardians…
After about a half hour of bumpy roads on motorcycles and a short walk, we were there. The wedding was in a small town called Abuh a little ways uphill from Fundong. We were greeted almost immediately by Simon, who escorted us into the house with all the food and drinks—and Rose and Ignatius were there, too! We all had a great rice stew and then went back outside to the scene of the marriage. We found our seats and marked them, and then we were invited into another house to watch a part of the ceremony where the groom and the father-in-law shared a drink out of the same cup. After that, we went back outside, and then Abdalah and I (Luke) were directed into yet another building for another part of the ceremony.
This was probably the most interesting part of the marriage; it took place in the traditional kitchen—a dark, straw-roofed building with a large cauldron in the middle of the floor—and was mostly for the female relatives of the bride. In this part of the ceremony, the bride scooped up handfuls of palm oil and put them into bowls to mix with the wedding chicken. Her bridesmaids, or at least the Kom equivalent of bridesmaids, also dressed her in bead garments in one corner of the kitchen. Then, she walked out of the kitchen—and so did Abdallah and I.
We were then back at the main tent; we took our seats and waited. First, a giant roasted chicken was brought out and placed on a palm leaf in front of the guests. A man with a machete started chopping it up, and then it was taken off—I guess to be mixed with the palm oil the bride had just finished scooping. A little while later, Ignatius was going around the feast with a bowl full of the chicken bits seeped in palm oil—and when I say “seeped,” I mean seeped. It was really good, and I was lucky enough to score two pieces, but my hands were stained orange for the rest of the day. When Ignatius ran out of chicken, he started to pass out fried peanuts, which were also great—I got two helpings of those as well…
Then, the women involved in the ceremony—the wife included—came out in a line, hunched over and quiet. They eventually sat down in chairs in front of the guests, and then the wife was interviewed about her personal information in front of everyone (questions like “what is your family name?” and things like that…it was in Kom, so we didn’t exactly know what they were saying…). There was some singing, and then everyone started dancing in a circle. A lot of people ended up dancing, and even Rose, Simon’s wife—who had made fun of us for the way we dance and said that she “didn’t know how to dance”—went into the circle! Morgan also joined and blended in like a pro.
After the dancing, there was a sack of corn given to the father of the groom. There was another sack of corn that was given to the guests; people came up with bowls and scooped some of the corn out. Then, there were huge blocks of fufu corn handed around (with jamba-jamba, of course), and people ate.
By then, the ceremony was pretty much over; people had danced, sung, ate, drank, and watched, and it was time to make the trek back to Fundong.
In the process of heading home, we all stopped at a few places, met up with some friends, and made some new acquaintances. We then got a car ride home from a very generous gentleman and got home well after dark. We made some very very mediocre pasta (cabbage + pasta = not so popular in our house), the girls watched Pitch Perfect, popcorn was popped, and everyone went to bed.
So there you have it, folks; another great, adventure-filled day here in Cameroon! Expect to read about a few others in the near future: We have crater lakes! We have chimps! We have tea plantations! We have Bamenda! We have danger (kind of)! We have paint!
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