speak attending a Ghana, Africa wedding celebration. detail descriptive families dynamics traditional food. It speak heritage.
Weddings are special events in the African culture. Not only is the couple at the center of attention, but also the two families, which become connected. African people highly value this ceremony and its significance in the wider context of life. Therefore, great attention is paid to the specific traditions, the clothing, food, activities and obviously the ceremony itself. Although in modern times, Western characteristics have been introduced, old traditions are still visible and families do their best to preserve them. This paper will describe a few elements characteristic of a typical African wedding I attended some time ago.
In Ghana, the marriage proceedings are a lengthy process, which actually starts before the official ceremony, with the groom asking the bride’s family for permission, by what is known as “knocking on the door” – the two families meet, receive the groom’s gift offerings and if they accept the proposal, the wedding preparations officially begin. This event marks both families’ acceptance for the marriage.
Africans put a strong emphasis on the wedding attire, as the clothing often represents the area the couple is from, having a symbolic meaning as well as a purely aesthetic one. In some weddings, the clothing is also connected to the family’s own heritage, being a way of acknowledging, exhibiting and being proud of one’s background. In Ghana, brides usually wear traditional gowns with African Adinkra symbols displayed on the fabric. Common in Western Africa, these symbols are a visual representation of different concepts. The symbols most often used in weddings are Akoma (patience and tolerance), Me Ware Wo (commitment and perseverance), Gye Nyame (supremacy of God), and Osram Ne Nsoromma (harmony)(Worldly Weddings – , accessed Mar.2013). This is thus an indirect way of transmitting one’s beliefs and desires for the new life that will begin after the wedding ceremony. Regarding the food menu, African weddings display a broad variety of their best recipes. Whether based on rice or meat, sweet or sour, African wedding meals are satisfying and special, to mark the union of the couple and the special celebration ( — Wedding Reception Food & African Food Recipes, accessed Mar.2013).
Before the ceremony, the elder members of both families say some prayers and introductory words. The groom’s family brings and presents the dowry (a set of things that were asked by the bride’s family at the “knocking on the door” event), and once these are accepted, the bride arrives. After the groom has publicly acknowledged that the woman is indeed his soon-to-be wife, the wedding ceremony begins, the vows are made and the couple is married (African wedding cultural traditions by country, accessed Mar. 2013).
Many wedding traditions have become obsolete and nowadays can only be seen in a few tribes throughout Africa, which are more connected to their roots. However, some traditions survived and are present in many of today’s wedding ceremonies. The most popular – “jumping the broom” – is a typical African tradition, which marked the official marriage during slavery, since legal commitments were at that time forbidden. Nowadays, it is usually performed at the end of the wedding, symbolizing new beginnings. Both the groom and the bride jump together over a broom that is laid on the ground, to mark their entrance into a new stage of their lives. For this event, a personalized broom with ceremonial decorations is purchased from specialized manufacturers, as the object will be displayed in the couple’s home to remind them of their wedding and their commitments to each other (Worldly Weddings — Jumping brooms, accessed Mar.2013).
Another common element that can still be seen in African weddings is the Kola nut, shared during the wedding ceremony, as a symbol of unity and problem-solving in a peaceful manner. The Kola nut is kept in the couple’s home after the ceremony (Worldly Weddings – African-American Wedding Traditions, accessed Mar.2013). Kola nuts can also be served to guests as a way of letting them know they are welcome to the event (African Wedding Traditions — Wedding Reception Food & African Food Recipes, accessed Mar. 2013).
African weddings have their specific characteristics, just as Western ones have theirs. The unique heritage, the cultural specificities and traditions are still visible, making it interesting to acknowledge different ways of organizing, displaying and performing a universal event, the marriage.
African-American Wedding Traditions. Retrieved March 7, 2013 from Worldly Weddings: http://www.worldlyweddings.com/african-traditions-a/121.htm.
African wedding cultural traditions by country. Retrieved March 7, 2013 from Afrykaconnect: http://blog.afrykaconnect.pl/?p=219.
Jumping Brooms. Retrieved March 8, 2013 from Worldly Weddings:
Wedding Reception Food & African Food Recipes. Retrieved March 8, 2013 from African Wedding Traditions: http://www.africanweddingtraditions.com/wedding-reception-food.html.