So Far, Yet So Close: Senegal And Kazakhstan

When I was about 10 years old my brother ran after beeping cars all the time. You ask why?
Because at that time and even now in some regions of Kazakhstan, beeping cars going down the road tell us that somewhere there is a wedding. I remember moments when children from our yard gathered near the huge yurt with only one purpose – collect “shashu” (Kazakh tradition to shower the young couple with coins or sweets) in one big plastic bag and then eat it all week long after that.
I didn’t think that our talk with Friday (for new readers, Friday is my friend from Senegal, Dabo, who actually like Friday by Daniel Defoe helped Robinson Crusoe) would make me come back in my memories to my childhood so that I can remember this truly precious time.

Recently, we had a talk about my culture and culture of Senegalese. One of such talks I would like to share with you.
Senegal – mysterious country, country with rich ancient culture and traditions. “Syrga tagu”, “betashar” and “kudalyk” (marriage proposal traditions of Kazakh people). These words are familiar to many people from Kazakhstan, some witnessed these traditions, some went through them.

First of all, African families from groom’s and bride’s side meet each other. Usually, on such meetings, groom’s father and uncles come to bride’s house to make a proposal. They bring about a kilo of Cola (a type of nut), money (200-250 USD), and some gold.

Cola, Senegalese form of presents during marriage.

Gold should be represented by jewelry made of gold, it may be earrings, necklace and etc. After this tradition, in Kazakhstan it is called “Syrga tagu”, there are two options of making a proposal.
The first option in Senegal is rather rare when bride’s father takes his future son-in-law and his daughter at the same day and they go to a mosque. The second option is much more common, when wedding is going to be planned for a certain date. In this case, the preparation may take about a month, and after that either in a small tent or in a large restaurant, relatives from groom’s and bride’s side gather together for the celebration. But, before that, everyone goes to a mosque.
At the same day, groom’s family make presents for bride’s family, and bride’s family does the same. This process of presents making is very loud, everyone, especially older generation should know what one family presents to another. It may be expensive tents, jewelry, shoes, and etc.
In my culture, we call such tradition – “Kudalyk”, which is one of the main traditions of Kazakh people. If we suddenly miss it or, God help us, if we make a very simple present, then it would be “Уят болады” (a shame). Of course, it depends on social and financial status of each family.

Marriage in Senegal

After this “noisy presents” making procedure, we move on to the next tradition “Mouru”. What is that? In Kazakh culture, we call it, “Betashar” (it is the reveal of bride for groom’s relatives along with the dombra (Kazakh national musical instrument). In Senegal, they cover the bride’s face with a cloth only after the celebration is over and she has to leave her family and become a part of the new family, husband’s family. Along with sounds of tam-tam (drums) and songs about bride’s family, everyone says goodbye to her. At this moment, I suppose, every girl has various emotions and feelings mixed up in the moment – sadness,
happiness, all together.

Marriage in Senegal

I thought, that we have nothing in common with African culture, but now I understand – we are brothers.

I am sure that every time I explore a new culture, I became closer to my own culture, better understanding the value of each tradition of my nation.

Thank you!

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