Too long away
We have been away from Nigeria for too long!
It sometimes just strikes me. One way I notice is that when I call up translators on the phone or sign off to friends in Nigeria I have to work just a little bit harder to remember all the correct greetings. And the funniest thing happens. I find that I forget the most recent language I’ve been learning & using (Ishɛ), fumble around and maybe even forget the right Hausa and then find myself wanting to use C’Lela which I learned in NW Nigeria in 2001, or Gworog, which I’ve hardly touched in the last 4 years. Memory is a funny thing.
But at least today we got a little taste of Nigeria as a mostly Scottish-raised Nigerian lad got married to our minister’s daughter at church today (online). Somehow or other they managed to have not just photos, but some videos of traditional Tiv dancing complete with black-and-white striped traditional fabric and stripy face-masks! While some people outside of Nigeria have heard of the sizeable Igbo and Yoruba tribes, and some may even have heard of the Hausas and Fulanis, not too many have heard of the Tiv, but they’re a pretty substantial tribe in the central south-east of Nigeria. We have some Tivi colleagues in Jos who are working as missionaries with us, and who have introduced us to some of their traditional dances and traditional dresses. So for us it was especially meaningful to see some Tiv culture, hearing some good Nigerian cheering and ululating from family on the livestream, and it reminds us of our second home that we’re missing, even while we are in our Glasgow home.
In many ways this was a complement to a wedding of our colleagues Richard and Anna in Nigeria a month and a half ago. As Richard told me they did the culturally unspeakable thing of getting married without either family present in person!
This COVID season has stressed us and forced a lot of us to think through again what is really important about what we do. While we would have loved to be at weddings in person the fact that they have just gone ahead with a handful of people in person, and most of us online, stripped down to almost bare essentials, speaks volumes.
What matters isn’t impressing people, or having a big fun party, or getting the seating plan just right, but a public commitment and promise to each other in the sight of God. All the extra cultural expectations can sometimes obscure what really matters and the fact this is wild, crazy, dangerous and good.
Julie and I loved the fun of My Big Fat Greek Wedding,* but maybe “My Slimmed Down Covid Wedding” is even more meaningful. The real wedding feast is still to come.
(* Some Northern Irish people may recognise a few familiar aspects)