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Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Nigerian Affair

I happened to find myself at a Nigerian wedding a weekend or two ago and my first  thought was holy cow. I'd been under the impression that no group of people on earth were capable of celebrating like Trinis do. I was wrong.

How foolish of me to think only the Irish drink like Irish. I was also wrong.

And since we're dispelling myths, let's address the main one, that Africans are always late. Let me say that continuing to perpetuate this mindset is narrow minded and short sighted, the wedding ceremony started reasonably on time, off by just 20 minutes............oh who am I kidding, the reception started 3 hours late.

The Ceremony
Mr. and Mrs. Osonwa
What's interesting is the fact that the wedding ceremony itself was quite ordinary; a standard Christian affair, scripture reading, vows, etc. To be honest, I really couldn't say what my expectations were going in, but I was at least thinking there'd be bloodshed, you know, halal goat, maybe a mini chicken massacre or something.

But not quite, it was reading, sermon, vows, kiss the bride.

I'd also noticed very few people in attendance at the actual wedding ceremony. Those reading this who've been to any African weddings, I know you're chuckling right now because you all know what's coming. I didn't.


The Reception Fete
Perhaps I've lived in the US for far too long as my concept of time has skewed somewhat. To Americans, 6:00 p.m. on an invitation means 5:45. Trinbagonians seem to think it means 7 o'clock. When Africans say 6 pm. they really mean 9 o'clock, which is the time the damn thing started. Folks were still walking in the door in droves even as the wedding party was processing in.

Dance Dance Revolution
I now understand why the wedding reception is so popular in this culture. See in my experience, wedding receptions can be a bit of a drag, talk talk and more talk, then talk some more, then you eat.

Take a gander at the program over to your right and tell me what you notice.

Dance, pray, dance, dance, break the kola nut, dance, eat, toast, dance, cut the cake, dance, toss the bouquet, dance and when you're through dancing, dance some more.

But there's a point to me even mentioning the wedding here in the first place. I came to a certain revelation once all the dancing started. The music they were dancing sounded very much like soca.

At one point the dj played an old school African music segment that sounded remarkably like calypso/ole skool kaiso.

But the similarities didn't end there, eventually they got around to serving dinner and I was handed a plate of  fry plantain and some other dishes that looked like, and tasted a lot like coo coo, callaloo, salt fish, stew fish accra and a beef patty. Here's a head scratcher for you, the dish that looks and tastes like accra is actually called akara, though it's made from mashed and fried black-eyed peas rather than saltfish.

You cannot tell me that we didn't come from these people. I have no further doubt as to true origin of afro-Trinbagonian culture; we are West African, our music is the same, our food is the same.

Be it Nigerian, Ghanaian, Liberian etc, certain aspects of our cultures appear to be too similar to ignore the link.

Now this of course is no scientific study, just my own personal observations of the various cultural aspects on display that night.



I used to feel offended whenever someone assumed my accent to be West African. It no longer bothers me. I now fully understand why they would feel that way

..............though seriously folks, if you've guessed more than 3 African nations and I've said no, just stop, try a different hemisphere.

DTJ

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