When Nubian men and women court, they must keep it secret from everyone.
To proceed otherwise, would damage the reputation of the woman (used goods, if you will). While, the 21st century feminist in me wants to be repulsed by this idea, I am enamoured by the chivalry contained within the sentiment.
If/when the couple wishes to marry, the man’s mother must go to the woman’s mother to ask the family’s permission. A blessing will come within two weeks. If there is no word, the engagement is denied and the man is not permitted to ask again. The relationship is done.
A blessed union involves a two day wedding. Day one being a henna celebration, with entire villages (hundreds of guests) gathering. Day two is the official ceremony with a gathering of multiple villages; the coming together of the man and woman’s home towns.
Prior to the ceremony, the bride and groom join delegations who have two weeks to spread word of their union to multiple neighbouring villages. The bride dresses in all the gold she owns or can borrow, and travels with a delegation of women – a way of presenting single village woman to men in other communities.
While, the women take care of almost all the wedding preparations, the men are in charge of the cooking. Slaughtering and preparing and cooking cows, goats and/or chickens over an open fire in a community kitchen-type area – enough to feed all their guests. The man with whom I spoke had 3000 people at his wedding; it took an entire day to grill everything up.
Is it my turn to be sexist by noting that men of all cultures seem to love the BBQ?