As a photographer, working with Nigerian Brides and Grooms comes with its ups and downs but i can confidently say, I’ve finally got the hang of it! so when I was asked to document a mixed African wedding, I was pretty Excited and Elated!
Fast forward to 2016, President Buhari’s Clamp down on Forex and 100% increases in Flight ticket prices, hotel accommodation and a huge ditch in every Nigerian’s savings and the wedding is hours away. I’ve got my Ethiopian Visa, gotten my bags packed and of course, a visit to my Favorite DJ to get a mix of recent Nigerian songs. I’m good to go!
Thank you, Kenyan Airways for giving me an awesome 1st time experience! They even served Jollof rice enroute Nairobi and the ‘awesomest’ cup of coffee I’ve had. Finally, I check into my hotel in Addis Ababa at 3.20am with a quick selfie to prove it.
7am(5am naija time), Aunt arrives to welcome me. Quick exchange of pleasantries with cousins and family members and an announcement that we were going to the National Museum and the University Museum also.
Great Experience, Ethiopia has a lot of preserved history. Watching them walk to their various destinations, heads held high, pride in themselves and yet, still very relaxed about everything, I realized they are so different from my beloved countrymen. Oh, did I mention they have their own Calendar apart from the Gregorian Calendar. Their calendar presently reads 2008 while we’re in 2016 and also, their time is different from the world time zones.
We got to learn about the different tribes resident in the country, different religions all co-existing peacefully, hair styles. They actually have some tribes with customs that closely resemble the Fulani’s, yorubas and Deltans.
Wedding Day! I’m up, dressed in my dress, camera in hand, taking shots of the groom and his friends at the hotel. The Photography and Video crew that were recruited for the Bride’s family kept staring at the tiny girl holding a Canon 5d mkii. One actually approached me. ‘you professional photographer, female?’ ‘yes, I am’, I replied. ‘Wow, good to meet you!’ and before long we were talking photography Jargons and re-setting each other’s Cameras.
Finally, we were all dressed and set out for the brides house. A celebratory dance was done by the groom and his friends as the members of the bride’s family came to lead them to the bride. Some 20mins later, we were enroute.
At the brides house, I came down with my usual ‘naija’ confidence and walked to the door. ‘Can I take pictures of the bride as I kinda missed her makeup session?’ ‘You with husband?’ was the reply. ‘Yes, but I’m also the photographer’. ‘No, you cannot see her yet until all is done’. ‘You are with groom, just hold on a little’. A few cute smiles and ‘famzing’ later, i managed to sneak a few shots and was ushered out.
Apparently, at the brides house, the grooms friends are supposed to meet a barricade of the bride’s friends and family at the entrance with Opposing songs. They are literally supposed to push their way through this human barricade to claim their bride. Once claimed, the groom went on one knee, offered his bride a bouquet and she replied him by pinning his boutonniere on his Jacket.
Then all the guests are ushered into the lunch venue and rise to welcome the couple and their train. Prayers followed immediately after and the couple again are ushered out to go take their lunch before everyone else. I have to say it was a very regal affair.
The dinner was also a similar repeat of the luncheon as everyone was seated and rose to welcome the train and then the Couple. I had flashbacks from various Old English movies where names like King Lear and Queen Genevieve were often mentioned. Very Breathtaking. Beautiful settings and placements, respect for the couple and we, the foreign guests. I didn’t want to leave soon after.
Ethiopian food is quite interesting! Wasn’t too bad for me, being born and brought up in Northern Nigeria. They eat like Hausas/Arabs. One huge platter with a lot of different items on it. Their staple food is Tef bread whose grain is indigenous to their country. Also found out (after a few days of eating without it, to my chagrin), that they also eat seasoned pepper (yaji as its called in Hausa).
I could go on but will save Part 2 for some other day. Ethiopia, I will definitely visit again, God willing. Thank you so much, you were all awesome Hosts!
By Rose Mary
My experience of Ethiopian rich culture