[ Djougou, Benin ]
Merry Christmas to one and all, from northern Benin.
I hope you are having a wonderful holiday season—spending time with family and friends, building (imaginary) snowmen, tolerating in-laws, and doing everything possible to avoid watching grown men in spandex chase little balls around various sorts of arenas.
Here on the far side of the world, we’re enjoying the dusty heat of the dry season, not far from the southern reaches of the Sahel. There’s been no rain in more than two months, give or take, and the dust is inescapable. Every movement creates a dust cloud, and I—like most every adult around me—have become a perennial phlegm and snot factory. All dust, all the time. (Bon appetite…I hope you’ve enjoyed the imagery.)
Why would I burden you with this? Merely to say there are no outward signs of the season here. Neither the weather, nor local events, nor the crass-yet-comforting barrage of Please Buy Me advertisements. If it weren’t for time spent online, the season could easily have sneaked past me. The only exception was a solitary woman’s boutique, decorated with blinking, colored lights, and a few garlands of fake pine; get your hair extensions, wigs, beauty supplies, and holiday cheer, 20% off!
To compensate a bit—and as a small holiday cadeau from me to you—I offer some matrimonial images from festivities held a few weeks back. In typical West African fashion the ceremony was a melange of traditional religion and local tradition, heavily biased towards the latter. In this case the celebrants were Islamic, and the vibe as lively and colorful as the images (hopefully) suggest.
This batch is from the pre-wedding gathering, where jovial women prepare for the evening’s festivities, roving children serve as instruments of smiling chaos, a bride-to-be frets nervously, and the warm-up band gets everyone, well, warmed-up.
Joyeux Noël mes chers amis,