A traditional welcome

I thought I would do a fun travel share with you today.  In my husband’s tribe, the women marry into the man’s family, therefore leaving their own family behind.  Also, the new wife is considered everyone’s wife.  So as soon as we were married, the males in  Cellas’ family were referring to me as “my wife” or “our wife”.  This took some real getting used to, but now it is second nature to me. Don’t get me wrong, I am just the family’s “wife” in name, not duties… ;)

Along with this idea of being a wife to the village, comes an initiation into the role. So before going to Africa, my husband warned me about a tradition in the village to “splash” the new wife with water.  I was expecting a fair sprinkling of water just to go with a small ritual.  I quickly found out  that I was sorely mistaken. On our first morning in Tinto, the women of the village gathered around me and DUMPED buckets and buckets of water over my head.  I kinda felt like I won a football game, several times over!

The first woman to  pour water over my head was the village woman’s Chief, once she started it, all the other women enthusiastically followed. Just imagine while looking at these images, the women around me singing and yelling in excitement as I get “cleansed”, each woman taking their turn pouring water over my head.  The cleansing went on for a little while until my Auntie (the one in the black and gold dress) finally told them “Enough!”.  Actually I was enjoying the whole experience. After all, it was hot and humid there, and the water cooled me down.

tinto spash

tinto splash 2

After the water was finished being poured (notice the once dry ground turned into mud) they preceded to teach me how to use a hoe and machete, the key tools in farming for women.  Then the ladies preceded to dance and sing around me in a circle.  They were clapping, smiling, laughing and hugging me during their dances.  The whole time I sat in the middle, soaking wet and watched all the celebrations. Although I had NO idea what they were singing, their dance actions graphically demonstrated the words to their songs.  Put it this way, it was apparent that many of the songs were about fertility…

When everything was said and done, I was lead into my in-law’s house and my Mother-in-law presented me with the gift of a new kaaba (the colorful dresses we are all wearing) to change into.  I was now officially a “Wife of the village.” The celebrations from this event continued throughout the day.  They even slaughtered a pig for the gathering. Later on in the day my mother was involved with her own traditions and presented with a goat.  But that is another story…

On a side note:  I have been very sick for the past week battling what we think may be malaria.  I took all the necessary precautions while in Cameroon, taking my daily medication and constantly applying bug spray.  Unfortunately, many of the malaria parasites are resistant to the anti-malarial medications, and one of these must have been lucky enough to find me.  I have now completed my malaria treatment, and am out of bed feeling much better. Yet, I continue to be in pain due to a rash on my left foot that has now made it’s way up a nerve in my leg. The doctor thinks  it is shingles, but there are no blisters and lots of swelling?   The pain is so severe that I have not been able to walk on it for 3 days now.  The swelling has forced me to keep my leg elevated, making it uncomfortable to sit at my computer for any period of time.  This blog posting has taken me hours because of this fact. I am not so sure of the shingles diagnosis, so we will be getting a second opinion soon. Please send good thoughts my way, so I can get back to doing what I love, photographing babies!

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  • April 22, 2009 - 7:57 pm

    gena - I’m so sorry to hear about the horrible mystery rash. The pain of it sounds as miserable as not being allowed to do what you love. Speaking of love, I loved loved loved the pics and story of the Wife Ritual. What a trip of a lifetime. I hope you have many more visits to see your amazing family. You know how I feel about rites of passage, I’m so happy to have a glimpse of this one and hope to share more rites with you in the future.

  • April 25, 2009 - 1:59 am

    Ruth De Castro - Looks like an absolute blast Jaime! Like a good old fashion water fight in a hot day~ It’s like all of a sudden you were sitting in a pool of water lol. I love the colors of the fabric there.

    Aww Jaime! im so sorry about whats going on with you right now. i hope that you get better soon! We’ll keep you in our prayers~ Ruth, Anthony and Evan

  • April 27, 2009 - 3:13 pm

    Kristy - Jamie,
    So sorry to hear about the Malaria and possible Shingles. Several in my family have had shingles and it is not fun for sure! I hope you feel better very soon. I guess the pain can linger sometimes…but not always! We will hope for the best so you can come back revived and feeling good!

    –Jason and Kristy Higton (daddy and mommy to Jane!)

  • July 31, 2015 - 8:00 am

    Florence Achuo - Look at my mom at the background trying to protect her own..we love you Jamie and we’ll always love you, your mom and your family.. I am not going to sit here and ask Why? Because I know God has a better plan for us All..

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