A Fulani engagement party

A Fulani engagement party is the ultimate exercise in playing hard to get.

It starts with the man and his friends/uncles turning up at the mother-in-law’s compound and being served a cornflour drink with lots and lots of salt in it. The man and his comrades have to demonstrate their good intentions by drinking the calabash dry.

Salt ordeal

Then a series of women are brought out, covered by a big piece of cloth. The man has to say whether each one is his girl, or not! For each wrong guess, he has to pay 5000 Francs.

Spot the fiancee

The sun is getting hot, and the man has still not found his loved one. He remonstrates with one of the girl’s aunts, who says ‘Not my problem!’

Not my problem

More decoys…

Find the Bride

Finally, the girl is guessed correctly and revealed for who she is. Now the real negotiations can begin.

Fatimata appears

The friends of the man go to the formidable aunts on bended knee to beg on the man’s behalf for the girl’s hand in marriage.


An accord is struck, and the dancing begins.

Lobbo dancing

Finally, the happy couple can be said to be engaged. The wedding will follow in a few months, and this time the cornflour drink will be sweet, not salty.

Fatimata and Hamidou

Published by

Stephen Davies

Children's author: picture books, chapter books and YA novels

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