Friday, January 18, 2008

Everything has been going well at the paper project. The college students have done lots to help and don’t seem that offended that I can’t really remember their names. As there is no real news on that front, I think I’ll finally write and tell you the end of the story about the wedding that I really didn’t want to go to. Part I is here.
And now: A Wedding in Bogodogo, Part II.
We drove south, following the long line of cars and scooters belonging to the wedding party and guests. That’s the tradition: you drive very slowly, horn blaring all the way to the reception site. The parade turned west, then north. And then we turned east and drove a bit more. We’re having some fun now! The cars slowed…we had arrived at the reception, finally! But the neighbourhood looked quite familiar. We had been driving for half and hour and ended up at a restaurant/bar about ONE BLOCK away from where the wedding had been held! It had the look of many local nightspots in Ouaga and seemed rather unwelcoming. A wedding planner had NOT selected this venue, that’s for sure. It was surrounded by a high cement wall that had “Defense d’uriner. (Don’t pee here) written on it in huge red letters. And they don’t write that because the dogs here can read.
I knew what it would be like inside. A bunch of sharp-edged metal chairs sitting outside in the gravel. Sticky plastic table coverings. Dim light bulbs dangling. Questionable kitchen hygiene. Latrines scary enough to send you scurrying back out the gate to pee in front of the Forbidden Wall and risk dire punishment.
I just couldn’t face it.

But JP REALLY wanted to go in. Just for a minute. Then we can leave. He promised. And I hadn’t had anything to drink for a few hours now, so I figured it would be ok. By the time I needed a proper bathroom, we’d be back home.
We can just slip out, I told myself. We can just drop our present onto the gift table, look around a bit and head on home. Right. The minute we walked in the gate, we were taken to the “Protocol”. He’s the man that makes your Burkinabé wedding reception happen. He decides where people sit, makes the schedule, recites the speeches. The Protocol always wears a very sharp suit and always takes himself very seriously. His job is to make sure it all goes well and looks good.

I looked around. All the tables in the open, gravelled area were gone. There was just row after row of grey metal chairs, all facing a raised area that had two long tables and 20 or so chairs. It was all decorated wth tableclothes and flowers and was obviously intended for the bride, groom, and guests of honor.
The other
guests were taking their places like an audience getting ready to enjoy a good show. It looked like it was set up for a medieval feast. But the Protocol led us right past these rows of chairs. I looked longingly at two empty ones near the back, close to the gate. But no, we were being brought up to the front. Feelings of dread started to build. It's not possible, I thought to myself. I don't even know these people.
But it was true- we were being taken up to the head table. Jp and I were going to be part of the show that everyone was getting ready to enjoy.
I was shown to my place – Not only were we at the head table, I was given a seat one chair away from the bride and groom!!!! So much for slipping out discretely. JP and I were the only white people at the party, so we were already kind of not blending in. And now we were center stage, literally. This was going to be a long night.

2 comments:

babzee said...

There is more of this story to be told. Are you holding out for a movie deal?

BurkinaMom said...

Of course there's more! Part III is coming soon. It's all part of my strategy to keep you coming back.
I also hope to frustrate certain lurkers and provoke them into a comment or two along the lines of "So, get on with it aleady! Sheesh!"
That way I'll know they're really out there. (Do you hear me, Lynsey!? That means you!)