This weekend I had the opportunity to go to a Ghanaian wedding. One of the ProWorld staffers, Osman, invited us to his sister’s wedding. Attending a wedding or funeral was on my Ghana bucket list, so of course I agreed. Plus, Osman is from the northern part of the country and is Muslim. I’ve never been to a Muslim wedding before, and was interested to see how they were conducted.
Osman told us that the wedding was supposed to begin at 8AM, which I though was incredibly early for a wedding. We weren’t exactly sure of the location, as the only directions we got were the “UCC taxi station” in town. The two new interns, Caleb and KC, and I decided to meet at 7:45AM and call Osman to figure out the exact location. Since this is Ghana, we figured that the wedding wouldn’t actually start until at least 9AM.
Of course the cell phone network was down, and we were unable to call Osman. After waiting around a bit, the network came back online and we were able to get a hold of Osman. We had assumed that the wedding would be in the Mosque in town, but it turns out it was literally at the UCC taxi station. They had set up four tents in the parking lot. When we arrived, Osman greeted us and introduced us to father and brothers. We were then led to the tents and given seats right in the front. The tents surrounded a rectangle area covered in prayer mats and there were three drummers to entertain the waiting guests. As we anticipated, the wedding did not start until close to 10AM.
The first thing I noticed was that everyone in attendance was male. KC and I were the only females and I was also a little unsure if I should’ve brought a scarf to cover my hair. Being the token obruni, however, insured that no one would rebuke us. The ceremony began with a large group of older men removing their shoes and sitting down on the prayer mats. As the father of the bride kindly explained, the men were Islamic scholars who would help consecrate the marriage.
After the men prayed, the bride and groom were processed in and seating on two plastic chairs. Osman’s sister is apparently a graduate of Islamic school, and was therefore required to recite a passage from the Koran. The next session of the wedding consisted of the men showering the bride with money. This was done by literally sticking bills on the bride’s face and collecting them in a trash bag as they fell off. I was a bit horrified by the idea of the bills touching her face due to the fact that small bills are often very dirty and covered in germs. We asked Osman about the practice later, and he informed us that the practice was for good luck.
Once the men were satisfied with the bill-sticking section, the bride and the groom left. The Islamic scholars took over and recited parts of the Koran and prayed for the prosperity of the couple. After about twenty minutes of prayer, the ceremony was over and the couple was officially married. A small amount of money and some candy was passed around to the scholars and some food was passed around to all the guests. It was easily the shortest wedding ceremony I had ever attended, and the first in which the ceremony took place without the couple present!
After the ceremony and some more drumming, Osman led us to the bride as well as all of the female guests. We awkward took photos with the bride and her attendants. I had no idea where the groom went. Osman took us back to his house where we cooled off and chatted about the significance of different parts of the wedding. We were then invited to next section of the celebration, which mainly consisted of the women dancing. Since we were exhausted from our Impact project from the previous day, we regretfully declined and went home. I wish we had stayed for the dancing, but we would’ve had to wait several hours for it to begin, and we were very hot. I was glad that we went to the ceremony and wish Osman’s sister and her new husband happiness in her marriage.