Wedding Crashers: Gambian Style

8 07 2011

The rainy season is upon us now and it isn’t hard to see how much of a problem it can be. One of the first real storms we had was last weekend and it started when we were out with some of the younger guys from Yena’s compound. We went down the street to a nearby program that is held every weekend. It is a place for people in their teens to their twenties to come, hangout and have a good time. A DJ stood inbetween massive speakers and blasted the latest Gambian tracks. Chairs bordered a 10m x 10m stage where people paid 5 Dalasi to go get their favourite song played and dance to it on center stage. You definitely couldn’t pay me 5 Dalasi to get me out there on that stage, but it seemed like quite the attraction as group after group of youngsters lined up to take on the spotlight. Only a short time after we got to there, the rain joined us and dampened the mood at the party, so we slowly started making our way back home. After getting about 20m away from the program the rain stopped, leaving us debating whether or not to return to the festivities. Looking back at the small crowd that had waited it out, we had just about decided to turn around when the group let out a howling scream and started running towards us. Without any thought, I turned and ran…I’ve seen too many horror movies to not know what to do when that kind of thing happens. Sure enough, after a few second of out running the storm, we were engulfed in the downpour. The puddles lining the dirt road that we tip-toed around on the way there, we now found ourselves frantically sprinting through on the way back. After a few near wipeouts, we made it back in one piece and considering the conditions, not completely waterlogged. The storm, which started around 8pm, went until around 3:30am and seemed to increase in intensity every 10 minutes. I learnt a very valuable lesson that night: when your washroom is outside and doesn’t have a roof, never EVER leave both of your towels outside to dry at the same time… especially during the rainy season … or after having a massive dinner and washing it down with some of that questionable sour milk porridge. Fun night…

street by my compound after the rain


...after one rainfall


The next day, we got the opportunity to see a real traditional Gambian wedding… completely different from a Canadian one. First of all, we went with the bride’s sister’s friend’s friend… I’m not sure, but I don’t think invites were sent out in the mail for this one. Having minimal clothes here as it is and knowing most of my clean clothes that were outside drying had been caught in the previous nights downpour, it was a struggle putting together something I thought would be suitable for a Gambian wedding (whatever that means…). My outfit started off acceptable; with a striped button up shirt but took a tumble downhill with my noticeably dirty, two-sizes-too-big khaki work pants followed up by my classy black croc sandals. I was just thankful that the wedding was outside at night time.

Lamin 'classy' Bojang

The set up for weddings here is very different; both the husband and wife’s family compounds host their own festivities simultaneously and the couple makes the trip to each party. We were at the wife’s compound where friends, family and apparently whoever else happens to be in the area at the time were gathered for the party around speakers (possibly the same ones from the previous night’s program) that were blaring music that was so loud that I wouldn’t be surprised if you heard it in Canada.

Yena, Dan and myself with the mother of the bride and other family

Midway through the night the power went out. Off goes the music and lights, leaving the entire party in the dark. I made a joke to Yena about how this might not be a good sign; seeing as marriage is the eternal flame and all… but it’s Africa, and this isn’t anything out of the ordinary. Lights or no lights, the party moved on and a seemingly infinite number of huge bowls of rice were then distributed amongst the attendees for everyone to chow down on.  After the meals were complete, the power came back on and the partying resumed.  After some more dancing and conversing (more like watching the dancing and struggling to converse through the language barrier and excessively loud music) we called it a night and head back home. All in all it was a fun night,and as there were no exchanging of vows or anything fromal like that, it seemed to be more of a celebration than a ceremony.

The Happy Couple

As for work, we’ve been very busy over the past few weeks working with the MoA on the GALDEP project, which I mentioned in my previous post, and with GAM-Solar on planning a new project that will hopefully be implemented soon.
Less than a month left and everything is going swimmingly,



2 responses

9 07 2011

Interesting blog…hope you are not losing weight. Looks like the rainy season is pretty brutal. We are enjoying some nice summer weather now.
Stay safe, mom

11 07 2011

Too bad we didn’t get a copy of when they forced us to get a picture with the couple..
Also the crocs/pants combo still make me laugh lol.

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