Thursday, April 29, 2010

Organized Chaos

Last Saturday afternoon, I was invited to a wedding in Ouaga. No, I didn’t know either of the couples getting married. But I did know the person taking the pictures and video footage. My friend, Aristide, was a cousin of one of the brides, and being the official photographer was his gift to the couple.

Kathy was invited along with me, but she wouldn’t have survived the heat, so she stayed home and I went alone. Well, not quite. I picked up Aristide’s family before going to the church, his wife, Mariam, their twin girls (about 4 or 5 years old), and their infant son. A family babysitter came along too. It’s a good thing she did because the ceremony was rather long and the kids got restless. Half way through, they began asking me for some water to drink, but I didn’t have any. The babysitter took them out to find some. When they came back, they were still restless. They played with my watch, my camera, and my hair. Cute kids, though :)

The wedding was held in a relatively new Catholic church. I was actually pretty impressed by the building itself. It was one of the more beautiful churches I’ve seen in Burkina. Lots of light and colour. A small choir sang a variety of songs, some of them pretty contemporary judging by their beat. Some of the singers had awesome voices. And the sound system was just perfect, not set too high and deafening like in many churches!

One interesting feature of weddings here is that there are freelance photographers all over the place. As you arrive, they take your picture or a picture of you & your family. Then, when you exit the church after the ceremony, they have the pictures already developed in a 5x8 format and laid out on the ground for you to buy. And if you don’t come to them looking for your photo, they’ll come looking for you!

After the ceremony, we drove some distance to where the reception was being held in Ouaga 2000, the ritzy part of Ouagadougou. Chez Valentin was the name of the restaurant. They had set up tons of tables and chairs outside for everyone, but it was organized chaos at its best! Apparently, no one except the bridal parties (who had strictly reserved places) sat where they were supposed to. Some people got upset and left. Others, like us, made do and found places to sit somewhere. Aristide and a friend scrounged us a table and chairs from somewhere, though we each had to sit with a child in our laps.

First we managed to get something cold to drink, for which I was thankful, not having had anything at all to drink all afternoon. Then we managed to snag a passing plate of salad (with some nice olives in it!) and eventually even some roast chicken! Like I said, it was organized chaos. Aristide’s wife said that big weddings are always like this. Well, it was quite the cultural adventure!

Finally, we took our leave and went back to Aristide’s place, where his wife put the kids to bed. After that, despite the late hour, we drove to a nearby outdoor resto where we ordered cold drinks and more roast chicken. It took a while to prepare the chicken, so we had lots of time to talk.

It was nearly midnight before I arrived back home. Wow, what a day!


Laura Dun said...

moral of the story: always take water with you in Burkina!! :-)

Mike Steinborn said...

You said it, Laura!