Today's Date
21 November 2014

Sudanese Weddings: A royal shenanigan

Henna

(Photo: Yassir Hamdi)

Nearly one year on from the British Royal wedding, I think about similarities with Sudanese weddings. No national holiday to celebrate, but 3 to 5 days of necessary customs to show off to Sudanese society who can spend obscene amounts of money on their children. The dowry and gold sets alone offered to a potential bride may rescue a debt-laden country. Unlike Kate Middleton, a Sudanese bride would be preparing for more months with traditional custom made potions, lotions and ointments to prepare her body and hair. A trip abroad depending on the budget will be needed for the Honeymoon and new life wardrobe not the King’s Road.

Some 50 foreign heads of state were among the 1,900 invited guests who attended the Royal wedding. Similar numbers to an intimate Sudanese wedding. Both guest lists have obligatory relatives, VIP’s, friends and associates. Royal Wedding guests will have been invited by the bride and groom’s family with a personalised card through the post. Unlike a Sudanese wedding where anyone turns up through a verbal invite and pulls up a chair.

Whilst we stare at the quiet Sudanese bride over large screens for up-to-the-second updates of her wedding make-up, hands to toes black henna designs and a white dress designed by an unknown, the editing guy in a temporary cubicle set up for the function, practises his skills with extreme close-ups, long shots, montages, fades and split screens to impress guests. Kate had millions watching her Exclusive and LIVE for the world’s scrutiny. Sorry gentlemen but no one wants to check out what the groom is wearing. At Sudanese weddings tripping over many camera cables and the zoom in with blinding camera lights gets tedious. The Sudanese camera men only zoom into the light skinned females. Dark skin is a camera faux pas supposedly.

Unlike the Royal wedding at a Sudanese wedding each guest gets a cling filmed plate with no cutlery, so while trying to eat plastic food of savoury and sweet with your hands, it’s at that precise moment you’re opening your mouth to eat, that the camera man will zoom in with blinding lights. Cans of Pepsi, Sprite, Miranda and Pasgianos are served. No Champagne toast. One cake won’t suffice for all the guests at a Sudanese wedding.

Whilst the Royal Wedding guests partied until the early hours, back in Sudan we will sit in a hall full of unknowns until 11 pm when the music from the loud band will stop playing due to government restrictions banning live music after 11 pm. The Royal Wedding guests had Ellie Goulding at Buckingham Palace to serenade the bride and groom; we have our national Sudanese treasure, Gisma, and her drummer girls. Please note the Bride and Groom in Khartoum usually turn up late at 10 pm having been “delayed” at the photographer’s studio. They enter the hired hall to the sounds of zaghareet – celebratory noises made by women.An un-orderly queue of guests forms once the bride and groom have sat at their decorated throne overlooking the dance floor, to congratulate them. For added blessings one might greet with the lifting of right arm and a click and shake movement favoured by Sudanese men.

The Sudanese wedding ends with dancing which is mainly a series of shoulder bouncing and shimmying moves. Plus a final wave to the Sudanese newlyweds.

I wonder why there aren’t there any wedding planners in Sudan.

13 Comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

  • Nihad Nour
    1 June 2012 at 1:50 pm - Reply

    .. I Really Like The Comparison Between Sudanese Weddings And the Royal Wedding,
    And the Very Smart Comment About Cameramen Focusing On Light Skin girls Only.

    Answering You Question, We Do Have Wedding Planners, And Actually They Are Increasing In A Very Strange Way Lately, Anyone Wants To Be A Wedding Planner,
    It’s Not About Having Wedding Planners Or Not, It’s About the Whole Typical Sudanese Wedding Concept That People Have,
    Wedding Planners Won’t Make Any More Classy – If I Can Say – Of The Wedding, They’ll Put Much Effort On Making The Showing Off Contest Even More Disgusting,
    Changing This Will Take Going A Long Way In People’s Minds To Make “Afrah Afrah” A Worthy Watching Show.

  • Hannah El Nefeidi
    1 June 2012 at 3:32 pm - Reply

    loll the part with only zooming into white females is super funny, however you might not like what i have to say next.
    I truly do not understand why sudanese people have nothing good to say about sudan. Why can’t you see the good side of sudanese weddings? I do agree with most of your points but what you failed to mention is how in sudanese weddings you also get to see all your relatives and family who live outside sudan or outside khartoum (who put their lives on hold just to come celebrate with you and make it just that much more special). How friends and family get together and bond over small things and make happy memories out of them, like putting together the guest list or even something as simple as gathering around your grandmothers and great aunts and just singing old songs with them. Seeing how much effort the friends of the bride and groom put to help out with the preparations. Seeing how happy and proud the people around the bride and groom are of them, and how everyone is included and enjoying the celebration with the dancing and singing, even someone as far as the gardener who comes once every 2 weeks to work on the garden.
    Another thing that you criticized is the amount of money people spend, and later on, the chicken that tastes like plastic. In this case i think you were talking about two different social classes that should not be compared, these two points contradicted each other because you can either get the delicious food which will mean a lot of money was spent on the wedding (given the prices of food in sudan nowadays), or you’ll get the chicken that tastes like plastic which means not a lot of money was spent on the wedding. I think you need to make a choice there.

    • deso
      1 June 2012 at 9:34 pm - Reply

      Well said Hannah. Plus, I wouldn’t go so far as to calling them “SHENANIGANS”. If you don’t like what they do (I don’t either), just respect their right to do it.

    • Iman Abugarga
      3 June 2012 at 8:54 am - Reply

      I love it when someone focuses on the positivity of our ways.
      We are a great people with lovely traditions.
      Thank you for mentioning that.

  • Dallia
    3 June 2012 at 6:10 am - Reply

    its a satirical piece its not meant to be complimentary…besides everything Jasmin mentioned is true – regardless of the social class. plastic chicken is plastic chicken.
    ps. why not write your article on sudanese weddings and submit it?? show the world your version of events…

  • Iman Abugarga
    3 June 2012 at 8:51 am - Reply

    The first wedding planner in the Sudan is called Samah Abugarga, incidentally my sister.
    Interesting piece.
    It touches on some of the more obvious aspects of Sudanese randomness.
    Is it time to minimise and focus on quality not quantity?

  • Lemia
    18 June 2012 at 5:29 pm - Reply

    Sudanese wedding traditions are a major vice in our culture that accentuate differences in class and economic status. They are filled with horrible, demeaning practices, starting with the bleaching of the bride’s skin, to her parading around in lavish, revealing dresses to dance in front of an audience that’s practically frothing at the mouth. The nouveau riche have turned marriage into a disgusting show of wealth, money, and power. I am really sad that the younger generation, rather than fighting these archaic traditions, has perpetuated them in full force.

  • amani bengawi
    16 July 2012 at 12:20 am - Reply

    the whole thing is interesting.I loved the way she presented both the royal wedding and the sudanese one. And it is not if I choose the right word , a( formal) article so as to be criticised or to say it is right or wrong . the writter send messages behind the lines, the issue of light skin and dark skin. how a wide sector of sudanese ladies (even the educated and enlighted) want to bleach their faces using chemical recipies . Why they the do that ? Is it the society forced them to do so. is it an old -new culture that regard ligh skin as better than dark skin ? The issue of sudanese traditions, behaviours..etc. However I like the article very much.

  • mohamed gad
    23 October 2012 at 1:46 pm - Reply

    It was agood comparison ..such writing may help to show to what extend we are very rich by that aunique respect to the other believe me we are full of good things we need just to shed some lights on

  • Haytham Abdoon
    18 December 2012 at 10:41 am - Reply

    Thank you Yasmin.

  • som0hika
    27 February 2013 at 12:58 pm - Reply

    LOL i thought he focuses at me becoz im eating !!! i hate u camera man, never thought he is racist too, but with his light all girls should appear with a light skin

  • Shahd O. Sidahmed
    7 May 2013 at 11:41 am - Reply

    You are mistaken about the part where you said that there aren’t wedding planners. I have met 2 up until todays date, one from a company called “wedding Planners” i guess or something along them lines, and another lady who works alone not with a company as a wedding planner. Maybe you should check your sources. And I agree with Hannah El Nefeidi, mention at least some of the good things about the sudanese wedding, such as its uniqueness of having 2 different hennas for the bride and groom, and a ragees aroos, where literally every member of the audience is celebrating and happy, even if the reception (dokhla) wasn’t that fun. you got to admit that you will never see that much colourful clothing in your life time of tiyab (tours) except in india, and that much sparkle. The whole idea is just merry and cheerful.

  • Hala
    18 March 2014 at 1:59 pm - Reply

    Why do I smell Cynicism in Yasmin’s Prelude on Sudanese weddings. Oh, maybe because it was intended.
    Anyways, this article would serve Sudanese culture some justice if personal insights were not forcefully inserted.
    For an instance, I lost the idea why would we want to match a Sudanese culture with Royal weddings. Yes it takes the Sudanese bride extensive effort and time preparing for her big day, and it takes a medium class family lots of money to organize such an event for your youth (bride or groom), but this is all out of hospitality and sheer social habits that is a true virtue of the Sudanese community, that the writer needed to invest upon.
    On the other hand, I feel sorry for your plastic chicken experience Yasmin.

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