I have seen a lot of weddings since I was a young girl in Sierra Leone. I really use to love weddings, but not anymore. Since we started doing other people’s weddings like ours and replacing it with something else. Have we ever wondered why our stories hardly ever make the news or why they don’t make news more often? the reason being we are not authentic at all. How do we as Sierra Leoneans dress for our traditional weddings that is authentically ours? that as soon as strangers see it they can tell we are Sierra Leoneans. We do our headwraps with gele-Nigerian traditional head tie-we spend so much money on expensive laces and to get them designed like Nigerians. The curse of social media right? Everyone has a phone nowadays and can access Naija wedding. Nigerian culture is good don’t get me wrong and the people are warm and friendly. They themselves will not miss any opportunity to uphold, uplift, showcase their cultures and traditions. That is why they are known all around the globe for their weddings. They don’t need our help to promote their culture, they definitely can do it for themselves. Ghanaians use the gele as Nigerians but will never see them use anything but kente(Kante) for their traditional weddings and men doing the wrapper over their bare body. Ivorians, Guineans, Gambians can all be identified by their weddings but not Sierra Leoneans. What is wrong with our gara tie-dye, our print, with our oku lapper, with our Batik, Brillion,(wi country Klos) docket & lappa, kabbaslot? We know times are changing and we should be changing with the time. Let’s get our local fabrics style in fashionable ways, work with big producers or suppliers of these materials to see how best they could be modernized adding stones, glitz, pearls, shimmer to make them attractive.
I believe as a youth of this country. Mama Salone is ours to build because if we don’t our children will suffer the most. Let us develop our identity, let’s not make the mistake of our parents, yes! I know the war destroyed some of our traditions and culture the very fabric of our identity but the war is way in our past. Let’s stop with the excuses, let’s stop feeling sorry for ourselves, we are known as a resilient nation we can do anything if we put our minds to. Let’s build our identity around our weddings; the way we dress we can also use it to tourism. Let’s build our brand or rather let’s rebrand our wedding culture, let’s stop using the gele commonly called ashokeh. Let’s stop promoting other cultures and start rebranding ours that can be more attractive to us Sierra Leone and to the rest of the world; youth are the drivers of trends, the most active users of the internet and social media. I believe we can do it if we all work together.
I am truly looking forward to the first traditional wedding that will truly incorporate all of these tiny details that are differentiate us from the rest of the world. The gumbay dance, doctor Olloh music, good old days huh? #bringbackourweddings#bringbackSalone.
©By Rahima Vandy-Kargbo