The Wedding Feast - July 2000

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July 17, 2000 was our first anniversary. To celebrate it, we held a wedding feast here in Chageen under the ancient tamarisk tree which graces our front yard.

We invited 200 guests - church leaders, local chiefs of all stripes, the Muslim mullah and his cohorts, Rajil Pal (the traditional healer), all their wives, as well as pretty much anybody with whom Mark had a vague acquaintance and who would feel hurt by not being invited. As it turns out, there were at least another 150 people who were inadvertently overlooked and showed up anyway. 

The church choir complete with drums, rattles and other unique instruments had been singing for over half an hour as the guests arrived. The ceremony was finally ready to commence, when suddenly the Muslims all exited (it happened to be the time for their prayers). The choir was, thus, forced to carry on for another half hour. Everyone was relieved when the Muslims returned so that the choir could stop and the ceremony could finally begin. 

Mark told the story of our courtship (in Kwong) and concluded by introducing Diane to the assembly with a flourish - “Behold my wife!.” (Chad is still in the Middle Ages, so we do stuff like that.) Diane, speaking in Arabic, expressed her pleasure at coming to live in such remote place. She was warmly applauded.

Pastor Old Moses, who no longer lives in Chageen but who made a guest appearance for the occasion, took the floor (well, the dirt) and led us through our vows again. Weddings are very rare here (the last one took place back in ’92) so we figured the reminder would be a good idea. Mark had translated his vows into Kwong, so although Diane had to take them on faith, everybody else could get the gist pretty well. 

Diane’s vows turned out to be quite a bit more complicated. She read her vows in French, which was fine, but when Old Moses tried to ask her about "loving and cherishing etc" in Kwong, she was, of course, clueless.  Never fear, Emmanuel, the interpreter for the day gave a brilliant translation for Diane - in very fast, beautiful Arabic which elicited another bewildered look from her. Somehow, however,  they forged on ahead - leaving everybody completely confused but none the worse for the wear by the time is was over.

The Chief Lubba (right, in black) was not on the program, but couldn’t pass up such an august occasion without saying something. He spoke well, as it turns out, and was sober - which is unusual. He told the young people, for whom marriage (but not sex) is quite a foreign idea that they needed to follow our example in making it a covenant before God. However, we're not entirely convinced that the words of a man who only a year or two ago was exhorting the men to take 3 or 4 wives (he has had 6 and currently has 4) carried much currency with the kids, but it was well intended nevertheless.

The grand finale of any bash anywhere in the world is, of course, food, and lots of it. We slaughtered a young bull (that's Jonas, our "father" below right with the unfortunate beast) and goat, and ground up 300 lbs of grain (rice and millet) to make the world’s largest pile of putty - the “boule” which satisfies all the culinary longings of every Chadian. 50 lbs of sugar, turned into about 20 gallons of very sweet tea, topped off the occasion. The ladies of the church had spent two full days preparing it all. 

The only hitch came in slaughtering the animals - the Muslims, who in these parts are very prejudiced, made it clear they would not eat meat slaughtered by the African Christians or pagans. Only if Mark slaughtered the beast (as a white guy, even though not a Muslim) or if they slaughtered it (of African stock themselves, but Muslim) would they eat it. We would have none of that - we would slaughter the animals however we pleased and if they didn’t like it they could jolly well go hungry. Alas,  Old Moses did an end-run around Mark and let them slaughter the goat. In the end, it probably worked out best as they were thrilled with the party and have been talking about it ever since, but it was galling all the same to cave into their disgusting attitudes.

The party lasted 8 hours until 10pm, when we finally collapsed into bed. We got exactly one wedding present for all our trouble - a lovely hen from Moses the Younger's mother (below left), who, incidentally, was among the uninvited. 

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