I was picked up after dressing in my tailor made top, made from a typical Nigerian style print. Femi was adorned in the same print with matching trousers (very smart too!). We were going to an area that was new to me, an area called Festac. Femi explained how 30 years ago that the Naija government built this huge housing estate with houses, flats etc. Basically (excuse me if I get some of this wrong) they held a grand festival and housed many people from many nations in these properties.
When the party had finished the buildings were empty and so they decided to hold a sort of lottery and who ever won, got the property free of charge! So thousands of people received housing for the cost of the ‘ticket’. Amazing! The only sad thing about this is although these people benefited from this hugely, it could have been thought through maybe and if people had received low cost housing this money could have been ploughed back into making more and many more may have benefited.
As we made our way towards Festac we took another road that I had not been along before, this appeared to be truck world. For miles along there loads and loads of trucks and here they are the huge American style ones. There were also the usual large potholes that hadn’t yet been repairs some taking up half the road. We passed a man with a goat hung around his neck, obviously about to have dinner, maybe goat pepper soup!
We arrived at Festac It looked very different from any other places we have visited, many more flats or tenant type buildings, although plenty of these were in need of painting and were scruffy much of the area was generally tidier and less derelict than many we had been to. Glorias father I believe was one of these ‘lucky winners’ and live in a kind of cul-de-sac, each road had a number rather than a name. This was a tidy road and in the better end of town, with what appeared quite big houses.
Today for the wedding there were canopies outside and inside the garden. The first part of the wedding which is the traditional part was to take place at the house. It was bright and colourful, the brides family and friends tended to wear beige, gold and browns while the grooms side wore turquoise blue. Everyone looked stunning in their traditional clothing and the ladies with their spectacular head ties.
The ceremony is quite long with lots of acts, starting with the groom lying on the floor begging the bride’s parents to let him marry their daughter. After a while they announce the bride is coming out but the first two times it is a fake bride and the groom has to pay the women to take her away. Eventually the bride comes out and meets him and he pays to take her. Lots of prayers are said and lots of money changes hands. At one point a bowl of Kola nuts is passed around, this is a stimulant that is chewed and swallowed, I tried it but it was so bitter I can’t say I enjoyed it .The groom offers her gifts such as food, yam sometimes a goat and a bible, the bride always takes the bible.
We then eat pounded yam that I watched being pounded earlier, cat fish, beef or goat and a spinach type dish that was all nice. Once that was eaten we made our way to the church for the blessing and the white wedding. This was at the Church of the Pentecost a large slightly more traditional church than the others I’ve been to here, with pews and an organ. I was asked to cover my head in a scarf as all women were expected to (know I should have got a head tie to wear!).
In part the service was similar to what we would be used to, hymns, prayers etc, but the bride and groom do plenty of dancing which is great fun to see. Then there was an offering the whole church (there must have been at least 200 or more) danced down the aisle and placed money in the big bowl and then singing and dancing went back up the side to their seats. This was so cool! Such fun and everyone was so happy and enjoyed it. Then the bride and groom went with collection bags up and down the aisle dancing, singing and collecting for the women’s association.
This was then followed by the reception which was held in a hall down the road. It was crammed with people, not the 50 to the sit down we do. It was who ever turns up gets fed and is welcomed. A comedian hosted the evening, Femi found him very funny, but unfortunately these jokes were wasted on me as I only caught the odd word. Again we ate this time Moi moi, jollof and fried rice and a piece of chicken. Drinks were flowing for everyone, the generosity at these weddings are amazing. The couple then cut the cake and again tradition is that the bride has to feed some to her husband and then she gives him wine. They don’t tend to give gifts to the couple but they get the couple up dancing (Nigerians certainly can move!) and they through money at them and place it on there foreheads (sweep, I believe it was called).
This was a fantastic day and it felt a real privilege to have been allowed and accepted to be part of it. I wish Angela and Demola a very happy and fulfilling life together and long may they be blessed. This will be one of my lasting memories of Nigeria (of which there is many).