It must be six o’clock because the bloody alarm has just gone off…
I didn’t sleep that well and I’m knackered.
I think I’ve had about eight hours in the last forty eight and it’s not doing me any favours…
The butterflies in my stomach have just turned into a longing for it all to be over and done with.
Still… that’s probably a bit unfair ?
Please let it all go off without a hitch.
‘Tufa is supposed to be picking us up outside the hotel at eight which means a seriously early breakfast before showering and climbing into my suit.
Thirty minutes later there is still no sign of him but the traffic is appallingly heavy so I ring Haddy just in case, but she assures me he’s on his way…
Guess we’ll just have to wait then ?
We spend the time outside with the hotel’s security guys and a few of the locals who have small shop type outlets in the vicinity.
Ousman’s not about as he’s got the later shift, and all the guys say he’s got to see this, so please wear it when we come back to the hotel tonight.
They all seem to be impressed with the suits so that’s a plus until one guy asks if it’s a Muslim wedding, and am I here to convert because I’m wearing Muslim clothes ?
S’funny… Everybody in the country wears this type of get up apart from the obvious tourists, including Pa and he’s a Christian, so I just tell him my wife picked them and in that I’ll defer to her, but no, it isn’t a Muslim wedding and whilst I’m happy to believe, it isn’t a Christian one either.
He seems to think I should be one or the other and I suppose I could have told him I was a Buddhist or a Pagan or any damn thing but I just tell him that fundamentalists in any religion let everybody down and if Tony Blair and George W. Bush consider themselves Christians then to please leave me out ‘cause I’m definitely not one of them, and thankfully that seems to do the trick and he leaves us to it.
Finally, after what seems an eternity of butterflies in my stomach and chain smoking like a good’un, ‘Tufa turns up and we’re off.
I realise that I didn’t remind Haddy about the rings because they are safer at her place and then realised I can’t do anything about it anyway.
If she forgets them we’ll have to borrow a couple, it’s as easy as that.
Finally we’ve arrived back at the Justice Registry and I’m rolling cigarettes like mad now.
A five minute wait and she’s here… and she looks absolutely stunning.
A simple white top with purple braiding on the front, a pretty headdress and trousers that definitely fit her… and she’s remembered the rings…
Which I immediately pass over to Pat for safe keeping.
Mariama and Ida look absolutely beautiful in their matching cream bridesmaids outfits with their small headdresses.
Can I relax now ?
Can I hell !
It’s never going to happen. Well it might ? But not necessarily today.
We wait upstairs for the affair to begin.
Pat is taking pictures of all and sundry with three different cameras, we’ve got the official Justice Registry guy doing it too, plus a lad who’s videoing proceedings for Batch, our official photographer, who has to wait downstairs as he’s on the official guy’s patch as it were.
One of the things I do notice is that I’m the only white guy marrying a black girl.
All the others are black guys marrying white women.
I wonder what the percentage is ?
I’ll ask somebody later.
The service is short and we all get our lines right (Aren’t cue cards a good idea ?)
so nobody makes a mistake, and after our vows and the rings and witnessing and kissing the bride (I really liked that bit) we’re off downstairs for more pictures and to wait for the cars that are taking us all out to Fatou at Leybato Sunrise, Sanyang.
Oh wow ! There’s loads of women downstairs that I recognise from the village and only one twin. The other must be with Sainabou and Fatou out at Leybato doing women’s stuff… like food…
There are a few outside that I didn’t expect.
Jally from the village and Badu from the market and quite a few that I recognise but can’t put names to, but they are all happy for Haddy and me, and that’s the main thing.
We are all family here.
Ebrima’s stepfather, who has three wives himself, has forsaken the mosque to be with us today but then he was one I expected.
I’m going to have to ask Haddy how she made the cut as far as those who are coming to the reception or wedding breakfast or whatever it’s called in The Gambia, because I haven’t the faintest idea ?
We’ve managed to cram everybody into two cars and an enormous people carrier and we only have one stop to make on the way to pick up Haddy’s son Amadou who couldn’t make it to the ceremony.
It’s a fair old ride to Sanyang from Banjul but there is method in the madness as you’ll find out later.