on being african

2013, October

 i’ve been in utah for almost 2 years {hastagwhaaaaat?!}. i have no idea where the time has gone.

anyway, why did i start with that? when i have met new people here, the first thing that stands out is my british accent. i consider it to still be pretty strong even after 2 years on this side of the pond. i’ve spent endless hours and conversations talking about the weather, the royal family, the language differences, the food, the chocolate {very important}, travelling around europe etc. etc. not a week has gone by without one of these topics coming up. and i don’t mind in the slightest. talking about home is refreshing, even if it makes me a little homesick every time.

but there is another part of me that has taken a back seat if you must. and i’ve felt guilty about it. it’s very much a big part of not just my heritage but of the way i was raised and who i am today.

if you’ve been following my blog for a little while you’ll know i was born in sierra leone, a beautiful, tropical country on the west side of africa bordering liberia and guinea. sierra leone has suffered from civil war and unrest for many years, but now continues to grow in peace. my family moved to england when i was 4 years old. the plan was to live there for 2 years maximum {my dad was doing his masters degree} and we would move back to sierra leone. so my parents took minimal belongings with us two littlies in tow and off to england we went! that was back in 1989. fast forward a couple of years and the civil war official broke out. it was then my parents decided to stay in the uk.

i remember not being able to understand or really speak english! crazy talk…if you know me, you know i sound very british! my parents put me in a private nursery school to allow me to learn english in a more relaxed environment. i still have some recollection of the main room where we would eat {of course}.

my parents are very much the typical african parents but they also understood the importance of embracing the english culture. in my teen years my mum would often say that i was more british than sierra leonean. that was probably pretty true in regards to my mannerisms. but i am grateful that sierra leone, the language, the food, clothing and culture were still ingrained in us, still very much a large part of our home life.

i’m not going to lie, as i teenager {i am ashamed to admit this} i was somewhat annoyed by some of the traditions. i would think “well my friends don’t have to do this!”. but growing up, and especially not being surrounded by it as much now, has made me appreciate that beautiful culture so much more!

i wanted to share some of my ‘salone’ roots by showing you a collection of pictures from my cousin’s wedding back in 2011. she kindly agreed to me sharing these pictures on my blog.

as a background my cousin grew up in a Muslim/sierra leonean home and her husband grew up in a Christian/nigerian home. with the mix of the two cultures is was definitely the party of the year {biased much?}.

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^^here is my gorgeous cousin in her wedding dress. this was the hotel room for the bride, bridesmaids, flower girls, mother of the bride and aunties who wanted to join in. jam packed but absolutely brilliant.^^

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^^when you’re african you ride in style. one black and one white hummer stretch limo for the bridal and groom parties^^

*side note* one week before the wedding, one week, the church called to let the bride know they had double booked them and so had to change the venue. I absolutely applause my cousin for her complete and utter calm. can you imagine??? invites out and all…

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^^some family and friends arriving for the chapel ceremony. here the girls are wearing what we call ashobi. it’s where each side of the family purchase the same fabric and everyone have it sewn to their liking. you’ll see the grooms ashobi in a second here.^^

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^^here is the little bride with her mother and aunt. there’s a little groom too!^^

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^^the groom’s side of the family with their ashobi^^

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^^my aunt {my mama’s sister} and her two littlies^^

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^^the groom’s parents^^

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^^my mama!!^

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^^i just love this picture. these handsome three were ushers. they are my ‘little’ cousins. junior {on the left} is the youngest brother of the bride^^

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^^bride with her father {my uncle} and chief bridesmaids making their way into the church^^

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^^annnnddd they’re married!^^

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^^a quick shot of the bride and groom with the little bride and groom {yes that is traditional in an african wedding – so many family members – they all need a role!}^^

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^^because we had to change venues we also had to do photographs at the reception venue instead!^^

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^^but i think it worked out just fine^^

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^^the party kinda starts from here. my cousin was the mc {master of ceremonies} for the night and announced each group of the bridal/groom party as we danced into the reception {explanation below}.

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^^oh my goodness. here are the ushers and usherettes. this just describes the awesomeness of the reception^^

at a sierra leonean wedding reception each member of the bride and groom’s party will pick a song prior and dance into the reception.

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^^the bride’s parents^^

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^^the groom’s parents^^

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^^finally the bride enters. as bridesmaids and groomsmen we line up ready to welcome her in. it is tradition that she dances in first then goes back to collect her husband to signify that she is now a married woman^^

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^^and here they are – husband and wife!^^

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^^ a few family members come up to share congratulations and embarrassing stories. my cousin found ways to help people stick to their time limits. resting his head on a shoulder was just one!^^

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^^typically at an african wedding there will be traditional dancers/performers. these three are called the ceo dancers and they are amazing! they have performed at africa fashion week in london and competed in Britain’s got talent 2013. check them out here – totally worth the watch!!^^

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^^our family friend there loving the vibes, my brother in the middle there enjoying the music. seriously the best party of 2011 and perhaps since!!^^

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^^here are the bride and groom in their traditional african wear^^

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^^bridesmaids with the bride and groom. that’s me on the far right^^

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^^and their final outfit change for the night. they looked absolutely gorgeous!^^

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^^just a collection of the beautiful colors and the mood of the night. gosh this brings back so many good memories! of course i had to point my beautiful mummy!^^

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^^one of my favorite photos, all of us bridesmaids in our traditional african dresses^^

i have spent a moment or 5 just being reminded of that rich, vibrant and beautiful culture that is sierra leone. i have made a goal to make it a bigger part of my life no matter where i am.

here’s to remembering who you are. your roots and embracing all aspects and of your life.

happy tuesday to you!
m.

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4 thoughts on “on being african

  1. You are so amazing!! I just love working with you and getting to know you and your culture more every day!!!

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