First off, I would like to thank my lovely friend Mimi Suleiman for taking time out to help me with this article, such a great help. Thank you so much Mimi…check out her lovely face below. Mimi is a lovely makeup artist based in Abuja, her work is absolutely flawless, such an endearing personality, nice and sweet.
The Hausa, Fulani and Kanuri weddings as similar as they seem have some key traditional differences that are considered very important. Most of the differences stem from the gifts presented to the bride’s family and the ceremonies during the wedding. Even though there is no standard number to the gifts presented to the bride’s family as far as culture is concerned, the groom and his family are still expected to do as much as they can as this shows off the wealth in the family and how well the groom can take care of his bride to be.
For all three Northern types of weddings however, there are three main stages from courtship to the wedding. The first stage is when groom to be comes along with some of his friends to come and greet the bride’s father. This is so the bride’s father can meet him and assess him. After some time, the male members of the groom’s family, mostly the grooms uncle’s and other elders come to ask for the girl’s hand in marriage. They bring along with them some amount of money called “mun gani muna so” in Hausa, meaning “we’ve seen and we want“. This is basically to show appreciation for the beautiful woman who has caught their son’s eye. If the father or the girls guardians accept the money it means they’ve accepted the groom’s proposal. This is of course after the girls consent has been sought.
Makeup by Lbv Makeovers
The second stage is when the female members of the grooms family come to see the female members of the bride’s family to set a possible date for the wedding. They bride along with them gifts and money for the bride mostly ankara’s, laces, jewelry, perfumes, shoes, bags and a carpet or praying mat, kolanut and “lalle” meaning henna. The Fulani’s include salt and other items to be shared among the bride’s family members. The gifts and money are called “kayan gaisuwa” meaning “gifts for greeting”. There is no specific number to the gifts they bring, just as much as the groom or his family can afford. The members of the groom’s family then suggest a possible date or month for the wedding and the members of the bride’s family tell them they will discuss and get back to them later. At a later time when the bride and her parents decide a particular date, one of the bride’s members of the bride’s family conveys the message to the groom’s family.
The third stage is mostly takes place week or two before the wedding. Then female members of the groom’s family bring sets of boxes (as much as the groom can afford) filled with Ankara’s in different grades, laces, veils, hijabs, cosmetics (body lotions, soaps or shower gels, hair care products and makeup) , perfumes, shoes, bags, underwear and sets of jewellery for the bride. Then they bring another box containing Ankara, laces and perfumes and jewelry (if they can) for the bride’s mother, and another box containing expensive shadda, perfumes and praying mat for the bride’s father.
For Kanuri weddings which are more expensive than Hausa and Fulani weddings, other boxes for clothing, perfumes and other items have to be brought for other important members of the bride’s family as well. Sometimes the dowry which must have been deliberated and decided on earlier by the male members of both families is presented. Although, there is no maximum sum for the dowry, it is Islamically recommended not to overdo the bride price but the minimum price is about N10,000. Now the bride’s family can either accept it right there and then or prefer to take it on the day of the Nikkah (wedding day).
As far as the wedding ceremonies go, even though most of the ceremonies are now so modernized, there’s still some cultural differences between the three cultures. One peculiar traditional event all three cultures share these days is the “Kamu”, where the bride is unveiled by the groom’s female family members after they have negotiated and paid a sum of money to the bride’s friends so they can be allowed to see her. They then do the spray her with very expensive perfume as a blessing and afterwards spray some on her friends who aren’t married yet as a form of blessing so they can be blessed with a husband too.
For the kanuri bride there is another small traditional event called “wankan amarya” where the bride wears the traditional attire. The female members of the groom’s family carry her on their backs and dance around with her one after the other. Then her hair(which must have been kept loosened right before the wedding is washed by the aunties and grand aunties of the groom, after which she performs the ablution and they bless her. Then she’s given permission to plait her hair which is a necessity for a kanuri bride.
For the Kanuri bride, the next event is the “wushe-wushe” which is a very traditional event. The bride, her friends and other female members of her family wear the traditional clothing of the kanuri women called the “laffaya” which is a veil-like outfit that covers the body and hair. The traditional incense called “turarren wuta” is burnt to produce really nice scent as this is a very important feature of a Kanuri bride. At the event, there are traditional kanuri singers who sing praises to the both families and the couple. Then everyone dances and gifts of money and other items are given to the singers.
A stage decor for a typical Wushe Wushe, decor by Blue Velvet Marquee
The most important event for all three cultures is the Nikkah also called Wedding Fatiha which only males attend. This is done either in a mosque or at the girls home or at the home of an important member of the family. This is where the bride’s father or her guardian is given the dowry. The exact sum is announced by the Imam to all present so they serve as witnesses to the marriage. Then Suratul-Fatiha a passage, from the Holy Qur’an is read and everyone says Amin to it.
Photo by Maigaskiya
All other modern ceremonies like the dinner, reception and others are the same for all three cultures. However when the bride is being conveyed to the groom’s family house for blessings, there are certain items called “Kayan Gara” that is sent from her family to the groom’s family. These include loads of foodstuff, home made snacks and boxes containing clothing, jewelry, praying mats and shoes for the groom and his parents.
We chatted with newly wed Hausa bride Marcy, who had a six day long ceremony. From her bridal shower to Kamu, an Hausa tradition where the bride to be is sprayed with perfumes and money by the grand parents of the bride and groom. To the Mothers night, wedding reception, where only the men gathered to bless the wedding and pay the dowry, ( Marcy’s dowry cost 500K Naira) and that included trunk loads of suitcase sets filled to brim with clothes, shoes, bags, Jewellery sets etc. On the fifth day,guests were invited for lunching, to celebrate the couple’s love. And on the final day, the sixth day, the bride was sent off to her husbands house.
Please note, all of Marcy’s outfit for her wedding was supplied by the groom, the groom pays for almost everything at Hausa weddings, apart from the reception party hosted by the brides family….Also, the bride’s family furnishes the new couple’s new home.
Finally, no Fulani Wedding whether that of a rich or poor family is complete without the “Budan Kai” which means the “unveiling of the bride” in Hausa.
This is when the bride is conveyed to her new grooms family house by her friends and relatives after the wedding Fatiha. She is presented before the female members of the groom’s family as their new bride and unveiled by the groom’s mother. Then they shower her with lots and lots of money as each member of the family starting from the groom’s mother welcomes her to the family. Note that the money isn’t sprayed, by given in cash or cheque. Most times the total sum run into millions of Naira.
Next the new groom is presented with his friends and again each member of his family starting from his mother gives him a significant amount of money. This is the money expected to help him take care of his new bride for a while.
Traditional music is played and then the bride is conveyed to her new home.
We hope we have been able to explain these three cultures clearly? Although very similar, the most expensive is the Kanuri wedding, and of course the items brought to the bride’s family depends on what the groom can afford. The Northerners have one of the most beautiful week long traditional wedding, the glitz and glam!