I was recently scrolling through my phone reminiscing on our last trip away and the beautiful memories of the wedding between my Nigerian cousin and his South African bride. And then I realised I hadn’t exactly written about it. Ok, actually I didn’t realise. I had hoped to write about it but didn’t seem to get to it yet.
It was an intimate ceremony with about 120 guests. Although less than a quarter of the typical Nigerian wedding size, this didn’t seem any less fun or grand – the bride did arrive in a horse-drawn carriage after all.
My thoughts below would contain a couple of hyperboles, but you get the gist.
Literally every Nigerian at the buffet table, headed in the direction of the rice, ignoring the traditional South African Pap (the one time we went to Soweto to try out traditional food, most of us actually thought “oops”!). And even in the presence of Green Thai Chicken Curry and Oxtail with Red Wine which were served with steamed white rice, many I spoke to still complained about the absence of more traditional wedding party Jollof rice! I’m 90% certain that as I approached the buffet table, the waiter gave me the look like “oh dear, another rice person“. And while we are on the matter of wedding food, it appears Africans generally aren’t fans of leafy salads. There was a huge salad bar filled with fresh tomatoes – which might as well have been pouring money down a drain. It looked untouched! But we all should try food more often. The “Herb Crepe stuffed with Chicken and Mushroom” starter which I thought I’d detest, I ended up loving so much and having a second helping!
It might to hard to explain if you’ve never come across it, but “South African Twitter” is a thing and it used to crack me up so much! Basically, they tweet in a mix of English and indigenous South African languages. And I guess it extends much more than just Twitter; it’s the way they speak. It was hilarious every time the compere brought that to life – switching between English and the native languages; I loved it. As per lessons from Trevor’s Noah’s Born a Crime, I could appreciate how prominent language is to South Africans and although the country has about 9 official languages, the common phrases that run through them was utilised by the compere and it was beautiful to see how it seemed to bring them all together… leaving the Nigerians mostly out of jokes; but hey we still laughed.
Listen. This was a wedding that had a good number of top South African ministers in attendance. But if no one mentioned, you wouldn’t have the slightest idea. There were no sirens, no fuss, no entourage, no convoys, no bodyguards. I just really thought Nigerian government officials might pick a leaf or two. I also later found out that a couple of top SA top celebrities were present too; but the couple had asked them for a low key vibe and so the non-SA guests couldn’t tell. I wish I knew before hand though – one or two selfies wouldn’t have been bad, yes?
When done right, you have to agree that there is something about a Yoruba man in an agbada. And well, you sure could spot about five of the groom’s friends who had come over from Nigeria. They brazenly wore that Agbada – attracting a good number of SA ladies to their table. But, I hope they tried to repair and not further tarnish the already shaky reputation South African ladies have of Nigerian men. The bride confessed to being a bit scared at having to tell her mum her husband was Nigerian. But good to know this ended well.
Ok, what – no one warned me. Actually they didn’t have to – I avoid the dance floor at weddings. I’m the seat mover / spouse clinger type of party dancer anyway. But wow, seeing these girls move on the dance floor pretty much left people in awe. They could go down and back up in seconds. Turning and twisting. And can we appreciate South African music too – such a vibe.
So, as the program comes to an end – food eaten, advice heard, couple danced; everyone gets ready for the dance floor to become lit. But first, the groom concludes the vote of thanks started by his wife. He says a lot of words, and then goes on to drop the bombshell. He & his new bride were expecting a baby later in the year. But that’s not so much the shock… it’s the fact that they hadn’t told anyone previously (and it wasn’t obvious). I think my mouth may have dropped open. I’d have loved to say the hall was so silent you could hear a pin… but wasn’t; people didn’t seem too surprised. But I know they were. Oh they definitely were. And the one thought that possibly crossed the mind of many Nigerians was that “this man has lived out of Nigeria way too long”. I mean, which Nigerian makes such a public pronouncement? And if he did this in Nigeria, the hall might have erupted in shock.
All in all, it was a beautiful day with lot of happiness and joy. I’m definitely a fan of the inter-Africa unions. And I hope that even as we live in a global world, we can always let our heritage, culture and vibe shine through.
Notice anything interesting at weddings lately?