We were invited by a neighbour to a wedding this past weekend. They were assembling the tent on the street and our neighbour came by to let us know that we would be welcome to join in the festivities. I still don’t have a full understanding of how weddings in Niger actually work, but I think that it works something like this. The men congregate at the groom’s house and the women at the brides, for most of the day. I think that there is an early morning ceremony that takes place for a select few at the mosque before this. And there is a blessing that happens at the groom’s home sometime in the morning and lasts for all of 5-10 minutes. Otherwise people sit around talk and eat and listen to music. There are two kinds of music that go with weddings the traditional musicians and the “canned” type that comes from tapes, cd’s or mp3’s. Unfortunately, I forgot that when you go to a wedding you are supposed to have gifts (i.e. money) for the older women and for the musicians (especially if you want them to stop playing in your face) as well as for the couple depending on how you know them.
“Barka” is the Zarma version of congratulations that I think comes from the Arabic “albarka” or blessing (mind you the Zarma also use it in bartering to imply that you want them to make the deal better). We got to use this greeting a lot last weekend at the wedding, greeting everyone with barka—mostly because there are so many people there it is extremely difficult to distinguish family from visitors. But it is the greeting that has been running through my mind over and over this past week. I have been so blessed by so many of you that have commented on my last blog or have sent me an encouraging e-mail and especially by a friend that gave me dried cherries and Tim Horton’s coffee because she had heard of my loss. Thanks to each one of you whether you let us know that you were thinking of us or just said a silent prayer for us. God has richly blessed us and we thank Him every time we think of each one of you.