When I chose my wedding date, in June, I knew that I would have to avoid all the things the Islamists don’t like – noise, big gatherings, music, etc. So we decided to just do the religious ceremony, and skip the party, which traditionally lasts for several days.
We were married, as is the custom, in my wife’s family’s house. [Editor’s note: Weddings can also take place in mosques]. A marabout recited prayers from the Koran. Then, I went to my house, and the guests accompanied my bride to the house separately, also according to custom. As is usually the case, they made this trip by motorcycle, which creates some commotion. One of my friends who was there told me that Islamists stopped them, thinking they were taking part in some sort of protest. So my friend explained that a couple was getting married. This apparently satisfied the Islamists. They even escorted my bride and the guests to my house. To them, marriage is a great thing. When they see young men and women walking together in the street, they always ask them if they’re married. If they’re not, they’ll definitely get whipped.
"They could have showed up at any moment with their AK-47s, and have forced everyone to leave"
Once everyone had arrived at my house, we ate a meal prepared by the women in my family. Then, for about 15 minutes, some of the guests clapped their hands to a beat, just for fun, but without any music to accompany them. That was pretty much the extent of the fun. Before the Islamists took over, people would bring loudspeakers and musical instruments. They would dance the Takamba [a local dance] to loud music for hours on end. But now, that’s impossible. I had to warn guests standing outside my house not to smoke or stand next to people of the opposite sex so that we wouldn’t attract the Islamists’ attention. They could have showed up at any moment with their AK-47s, and have forced everyone to leave.