Arriving by bicycle from Orodara, a present strapped to the back of my bike, we road along a narrow winding dirt path towards the
It is the coming of age ceremony. A ceremony that takes place once every 2-4 years, depending on when the elders of the village deem that there are enough young women of marrying age (which is around 18 years old) to hold the festivities. This year there are 20 young women passing the coming of age and one of the women was Moussa’s “wife”. The ceremony is just one of the many steps the two of them have been progressing through in order to become an official married couple. They have been together now for a few years and have two adorable children (age 3 and 6 months). Moussa has passed through the male coming of age ceremony and has finished building his wife’s house. After she finishes the coming of age ceremony they are planning on having the legal wedding at the church.
The ceremony is three days of celebrating womanhood, passing along the secrets of married life, dancing, singing, eating and supporting each other. Young girls dream of their turn and older women reminisce. Every family that has a daughter in the ceremony cooks enough food for every possible visitor that may pass by, they hire the Griotts (important musicians who sing benedictions) to play the xylophone and jambé’s so everyone can dance.
Griott playing the xylophone
For a portion of the ceremony all the girls are grouped together and dance in a circle with their sisters, cousins, aunts, friends and their “maid of honour”, then later they will move onto individual parties at their family’s home. The maid of honour is a married sister who transports a basket on her head every where the “bride” goes and people give presents of money, clothe, dishes…that they place in the basket. This maid of honour helps the bride throughout the 3 days, never leaving her side and getting her what she needs. The bride herself changes outfits several times throughout the 3 days, wearing ornate clothe and decorated with jewelry, glasses (to protect from the sun), a small basket (to capture blessing and good chance for the future), a broom (to represent her future life) and a fan (as she will dance for 3 days often under the hot sun). The women sing and dance, the Griotts play music and friends gather around to cheer, sing and participate. The party continues into the night, sleep is forgotten and everyone has a great time.
Dressed for the ceremony
( Moussa's wife to be)