Sunday, 6 October 2013

Bijou and Bocar got married!!

Let me start by letting you know that - unfortunately - the water problem In Dakar is not solved yet. The president Macky Sall decided to cut short his visit to the UN GA to return to Senegal to address the water problem and he promised that he would solve the problem within a few days. However, nothing has changed yet and as a result there are riots and protests on the street. 

The water in the house of Bijou is still running, which is such a relief. I do not face many difficulties myself: I can wash myself every day, I can buy bottles of water to drink and have water to do my dishes and flush the toilet. Of course I would love to take a shower in my apartment and wash my clothes, but that is not really a priority taken into account that many people do not have water to drink – and it is 35 degrees today…

Everywhere on the street you see people carrying water.
After I wrote my last blog post, I went to the house of Bijou to cook dinner together. She asked me quite nervously to come and sit on the bed and she said: “I have to tell you something.” I became very excited, at the same time a little bit worried, because she was extremely serious. Then she told me that she and Bocar decided to get married – this Saturday! Whooooow, I was so happy for them!!!! …But at the same time confused: “Really, this Saturday? Like, in three days?!” She showed me the dress she bought for an Islamic holiday that is taking place mid October, but it will now be her wedding dress. It was a very beautiful traditional African dress. I was sure she would look so pretty.

We both laughed and talked for more than an hour about traditions in Senegal and the Netherlands regarding to marriage. I tried to explain Bijou that Erik and I took 1,5 year to prepare our wedding, but she stared at me as if I was crazy. ;-) She responded: “Some people even get married the same day!” Haha, I just love these cultural differences.

The next day I picked her up at 9am to go to the city centre to buy shoes for her wedding. We also visited the houses of several ‘aunties’ to bring the good news! We first went to the first wife of her dad, who lives around the corner of Bijou’s house: yes, polygamy is allowed in Senegal! ;-) They offered to bake cookies and sweets. Then we went to a good friend of Bijou she knows from university and some other aunts. I really enjoy discovering the Senegalese culture from the inside, and to see how their houses look like, how they communicate with each other, how strong the family ties are, etc.

On my way to Bijou's house.
The street where Bijou lives.
In the city centre we bought nice shoes for Bijou, I bought some pots and pans for my apartment and then I returned home to read some reports I gathered about the national law against FGM/C in Senegal.

'My' street
The picture above is the street where I live. In the morning I go to the shop on the left to buy bread and a cup of café touba (Senegalese coffee). My apartment is located in the second building on the right.

Here a few pictures of 'my' neighborhood:

On Friday I worked from home, reading reports I collected and I worked on my questionnaire. When I was working on the questions and the finishing of the questionnaire is in sight, I became very excited! I am really looking forward to the interviews and I am curious to know what people will answer to my questions. Next week I am planning to have the first interviews to pilot my questionnaire.

Writing and re-writing my questions. ;-)
Friday afternoon we had a Mukomeze board meeting in the Netherlands and I was able to be present via skype!! It was so nice to be more than 5.000 km away, but still be present and able to participate in the discussions we had. :-) I have said it many times, also when I was in Israel for 5 months: I just love the person who invented skype!!! I am able to talk to Erik every day and that makes life so much easier when you are abroad! 

And… yesterday was the big day!! At noon, I went with Bijou, her sister and her best friend to the hairdresser. We were there for more than 4 hours! 

Bijou at the hairdresser.
Almost finished. ;-)
When the hair and make-up of the bride was finished, all of us put our African dresses. Around 5pm the brother of Bijou came to pick us up and brought us to the house of her dad, who is living in a suburb of Dakar. This was the place where the women gathered (aunts, nieces, sisters, friends). All the men were with Bocar in the mosque, arranging the marriage. After an hour or so, some men came in the house and they were talking to Bijou what it is like to be married, what it means to be a good wife, what is expected from her and who she could contact in the mosque when there were any problems.

Men explaining to Bijou how to be a good wife.
Bijou with her mother and sister.
Bijou's friend from university, Bijou and me!

The photographer taking pictures of the family.
When the men left the house, the official part of was done and everybody congratulated Bijou. Of course, bowls with food were put on the floor (one thing that is common all over the world: when there is a wedding, there should be enough to eat!) ;-) and everybody enjoyed themselves. After a few hours, everybody went home and Bijou, a friend and me were brought back home.

As you can imagine, it was so special to be part of this day. I asked myself a few times: “When does Bocar come? When will he see his beautiful bride?” but then I realized that this will not happen. He would never see what a beautiful bride Bijou was (apart from the pictures). According to the Senegalese tradition, the men have their ceremony at the house of the groom, and the bride has her ceremony with the women at the house of the dad of the bride. Sometimes, couples decide to have an American/European style party afterwards, but Bocar and Bijou decided not to do that.
The past week was very exciting and special. I feel honored that I can experience all this. Next week I will move one floor up to another apartment and I hope I will conduct the first interviews. However, everything goes ‘the African way’ and we’ll see what will happen next week. ;-)

You might be wondering where I type all my blog posts. I do not have internet in my apartment, but close to my apartment there is this internet cafe, where I am a regular customer. ;-)

The internet cafe!
I keep you updated!

Warm regards,


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