Festival of the Desert Wedding, Mali

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February 27th 2011
Published: March 3rd 2011
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Festival in the Desert Highlights - 7th and 8th January 2011


As I mentioned in an earlier blog - there was to be a wedding at the festival. David and Denise, who we were travelling with us, had decided to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary by renewing their vows and the festival seemed to be the perfect place.

Our travel group were all to be part of the wedding party and with Hamma's help we managed to get traditional clothing made for the wedding. We had several wedding planners involved in getting everything right - wedding photographer and video specialist, clothing, Tuareg traditions had to be learned and followed, etc. etc. Invitations were send out by word of mouth around the camp sites and at about 4pm the celebration began.

David and Denise were dressed in the traditional blue color and each were loaned pieces of Tuareg accessories to make it more authentic - e.g. David had something for his head as well as a sword and Denise had a special necklace that was provided by a local woman - she had been given it when she got married.

To start the ceremony the happy couple were taken for a short camel ride while the best man (Michael) and the matron of honor (me) and flowergirl (Sam) waited in the wings. There was lots of drumming, singing, dancing, confusion, wedding vows spoken by David and Denise, members of another tribe heard about the wedding and came with swords drawn and waving them around and singing as well - but rings were exchanged and more drumming and singing and we thought it was all over.

But, no, the women of the tribe kidnapped Denise and raced her off to another tent where she was held and told not to speak at all. Sam and I tried to get her back but the women were insistent and kept pushing us away - so we sat patiently outside the tent as well - while the women lit a pipe.

Apparently, David was now supposed to bargain to get his wife back - the price started with the purchase and exchage of a camel (high stakes) - Michael (the best man) had to intervene and bought the offer down to a sheep which the women wouldn't accept (they still hadn't finished their smoke). The final bride price was 10,000cfa (about $20) - the women accepted the money and happily released the bride from the tent amid lots of "shrilling" and dancing.

What an event - there were lots of people there (Japanese taking photos) and someone said to us the next day something like: "your wedding was an event that you gave us the privilege to witness" - which was a really nice way to express the feeling that surrounded the wedding.

Additional photos below
Photos: 19, Displayed: 19


4th March 2011

I threw out an idea of whether Denise & I could catch onto the coat tails of any Tuareg wedding happening at the Festival of the Desert to recommit our 30 years of marriage...and this was the result! What a hoot...and you have captured it well in this entertaining blog...I couldn't stop smiling...as Alberto put it "It was a f...ing good show"!!!! I thank you Ros for getting so into it as our Matron of Honour and Mike as Best Man...it truly was a hoot. Regards, Dancing Dave
18th March 2011

Hi Ros...what a lovely rendition. The pics & your account brought it all back with a huge smile & misty eyes. Hope the 60th is just as exciting - but I'll have to say it will be a hard act to follow.

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