Fascinating Wedding Ritual, Burkina Faso

Traveling in northern Burkina Faso, we were lucky to witness a unique wedding ceremony.

(video)

The Rimaybe are the former slaves of the Djelgoobe clan. While they were once captives, they now live freely alongside their former masters. Although their bloodline is not Fulani, they live today as Fulanis, herding cattle and speaking Fulfulde. This societal phenomenon is common throughout West Africa, not only with the Fulani but with all ethnicities who once held slaves. The Rimaybe do however have their own particular traditions, such as their wedding ritual.

Staying in Djibo with a Mamadou Dicko, a cultural specialist, we were excited to hear about a wedding in the nearby hamlet of Borguiende. As far as he knows, this marriage ritual has never been filmed or recorded by Westerners. Mamadou assured us that the family would feel honored to have the Pulaku Team document the festivities, and we jumped at the opportunity.

The marriage ceremony takes four days, starting calmly and gradually ramping up to a village-wide celebration. On the first day, relatives arrive from afar and begin making preparations. We arrived on the second day, when they pound millet to feed the numerous friends and family who’ve come to celebrate. To the rhythm of tam-tams, the community gathers to pound millet grain into flour that will be cooked into a doughy paste eaten with sauce.

Throughout this stage, the married couple has yet to appear.

On the third day, the bride comes out of her house with her mother and sisters.

Stripped of her clothes, she is wrapped in fabric by her sisters.

The anxious bride waits for the ceremony to get started.

Eventually, family and friends arrive, accompanied once again by musicians.

The women of the village take turns carrying the bride on their back.

Dancing all the way, they walk slowly across the village to the family of the husband.
In accordance with tradition, the bride bawls the whole time, showing her sadness about leaving her family.
(listen carefully to the video)

One step at a time, it takes several hours to walk a few hundred meters.

These men found a nice shady spot to watch the show.

Everyone came to watch the excitement.

Finally arriving at the husband’s family compound, they begin pounding millet once again:

With a mountain of millet flour, they begin cooking on the fourth day.

We weren’t able to stay for the final day, but they told us the festivities present a feast for the whole village, with plenty more dancing and drumming. The process is focused mostly on the woman, as the husband does not appear until the very end, when he takes the wife back to his home. For the next forty days, the wife wears special veil indicating her newlywed status.

The bride’s aunt, responsible for organizing the wedding festivities. She’s displayed her impressive cookware collection, a testament to her wealth and status.

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4 Responses to “Fascinating Wedding Ritual, Burkina Faso”

  1. Ianissimo says:

    There’s a lot of nice tissues in there! Again, awesome glimpse into something probably never recorded before!

  2. alyssaD. says:

    like the videos and pictures they are cool and colorful keep them coming!

  3. yombo says:

    j’aime et merci à ceux qui ont réalisé cette belle documentation sur notre mode de vie foulbé d’est en ouest.

  4. Vinterjakke says:

    I actually like your txt here, very nice written. I saw it from my htc with no problems at all. I will bookmark your site and come back when i need similar reading. Regards Brian Hansen . DK