Monday, October 31, 2016

That Time I went to a Nigerian Wedding... Hallelujah Amen!

It's been a while since I've experienced jet lag but I seem to have a case of it after this weekend....and even though I didn't technically fly to Africa for a feels like I crossed time zones and spent the weekend in a completely different country with a completely different culture.

I did travel though, to Detroit, Michigan...which is still in the same time I have no idea why I am having issues with this "what day is it?  where am I?  what time zone am I in?" feeling.  However, I think it might have something to do with driving to Detroit and back to Wooster in the same day.

Going to this wedding was a last minute choice.  I say choice loosely because it was more of an obligation.  I have been spending some time with a guy and he asked me a while back to go with him to this wedding.  I told him I didn't think we were there yet and we could see where we were when the wedding got closer.  He took that to mean he should check yes, and RSVP for two.

A few days ago he said, "we need to leave around 10 to get to the wedding on time."

"It's this weekend?  I have plans, and we were supposed to discuss this."  I said.

"I already told them you were coming, they rearranged the seating to make a plate for you, and it is a fancy wedding."  He reminds me.  "Plus, I need you to be my date, either you go with me or I don't go to the wedding."

I'm not always covered in sweat.
I can clean up.
Dang it.  It is one of his good friends and I knew he wanted to go to the wedding, so I cancelled my plans and got all fancied up and headed to Detroit to attend a wedding for people I'd never met before in my life.  The only thing I knew about this couple was the groom was from Nigeria, and the bride was a doctor.

What I didn't know is the bride's family was also from Nigeria which meant I got to experience a Nigerian wedding which has kinda been on my bucket list.  Technically, I just wanted to go to an African wedding, I didn't really care which country in Africa, just a total cultural experience kind of wedding.  (And Indian and Romanian weddings are also on the list... and a Royal wedding but Prince William didn't get the memo that I was supposed to be his bride and be a PART of that wedding.  It's cool, I've forgiven him and I really think Kate is a perfect choice for him.)   I've always been fascinated with different cultures which is probably why I enjoy traveling so much...and have no problems dating difference ethnic groups.
I sat and watched women walk in with colorful dresses and  gele headtie styles, and men in their yoruba dress and aso oke.  (I got the names from google... hopefully I got them right!)  And suddenly I was feeling rather dull since I was in a solid blue dress.  I desperately wanted to be dressed as a Nigerian in a bright dress!  As soon as one lady sat down beside me, I oozed out my love for her dress and how beautiful she looked.  I couldn't help myself!  My date, on the other hand, was probably wishing I would chill out!

*While we were waiting for the reception to begin,
I almost go the opportunity to learn how to
make a headtie...but it turned out to be too

The music started and by that I mean, two mean started singing from deep within them.  I had no idea what they were saying but it was beautiful and powerful!  I found myself moving to the music.  Soon, a loud drum beat joined in.  I don't know if you've ever been able to feel power, or spirit, or love, or any other type of positive vibes from music, but this is what it felt like.  Magnified.

Everyone was shouting hallelujah, amen!  Praise be to God the Father.  Over and over.  It was a total spiritual experience.  I imagine this is what the big tent revivals felt like back in the day.  The wedding continued but it was mostly just one long powerful prayer!  Hallelujah amen.  When it was time for the family blessing, the parents walked up and the new husband and wife greeted their in-laws by bending low and touching their feet.  I imagine this is to show respect.  Then, the family surrounded them and the rest of those attending the wedding were asked to place our hands in front of us as if we were putting our hands on the new couple while they prayed over them.

Let me tell you, I had tingles in my arm... and they weren't the kind of tingles you get when your arms fall asleep.  I leaned over to my date and said, wow, this is powerful, and spiritual, and beautiful, thank you for inviting me to experience this.

It wasn't too much longer that we got the opportunity to go greet the new couple.  The singer went back on stage, the tribal music started playing again, and we danced down the aisle to greet the bride and groom, to give them a hug, and then go back to our seats.  Nigerian dancing is hard to explain but it's mostly like a really slow walk.  You step, and shake, step the other foot, and shake.  This is one step.  And they are baby steps.  I'm sure you can imagine this was a very slow process to greet and congratulate the couple.  It was around this time that I learned Nigerians have absolutely NO sense of time.

The ceremony ended after 2 hours and that was only because the wedding planner was in the back motioning to the watch on her hand.  There was a reception to go to and pictures needed done and all that exhausting wedding behind the scene stuff.  The ceremony ended and we headed over to the reception.  It was around this time my date said the most ridiculous sentence I'd ever heard him say....  "we were like the only white people there."

I looked at him with a very confused look on my face.  "Um, you know you're not white, don't you?"  I picked up his arm and put it beside my arm.  Pointing my my arm, I said, "This is white skin.  And you are not white."

"Well, I'm not black.  And I've lost a lot of my coloring since living in the United States. What color would you call me?"  He asks in an innocent way which is equally hilarious and sweet.

"Tan... brown...dark...dusky... even when you are pale, you aren't white!"

"Maybe if you spend a little more time in the sun, you'll be tan like me."  He said, but I remind him that this IS my skin with a tan and winter is shade of pale will only get stronger.

We headed to the reception and watched everyone make their grand entrance with more dancing!  Only, it was like the entire family coming in instead of just the mom and dad.  They would dance and dance, and then people would surround them and start throwing dollar bills on the father of the bride, the mother of the groom, and when the bride came out, she got showered in cash.  I kept thinking... this means something much different here in America.

I was also seating at the international table.  I was hoping for fascinating discussions of culture but everyone at the table was my date's coworkers, so they talked about work and the groom.  I was seated at the same table with someone from Iraq, Turkey, Taiwan, Iran and China.  I felt so American!  I was the only person at the table who wasn't bilingual.  *Note to self, must learn another language.

We kept waiting for "real" dance music to come on so we could join in on the dancing but they seemed pretty content with their tribal stomping, and knowing we had to drive home and it was already late, we decided to call it a day and head back to Wooster, Ohio.... with headaches from the drumbeats, bellies filled with Nigerian food, gifts from parents of the bride and groom, and blessings and prayers from everyone we talked to.

It was an amazing experience, and I'm really glad I cancelled my plans and went to experience it.

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