March 10, 2016 was an extra special birthday because I got married for the first time in my life. My fiance, Rejoice Binta Abbas, had the idea of getting married on my 46th birthday. I thought it was good for our marriage because then I would never forget our anniversary date.
When the bride walked in, everyone was amazed!
About Our Wedding Outfits
Our wedding outfits have a fascinating story behind them. Rejoice was supposed to be married when she was 12 years old. That is the tradition in her village in the extreme north of Cameroon. Girls have to get married and out of the house before their first menstruation. Her mom had her bridal dress made, as well as the groom's.
Her mom paraded many suitors in front of Rejoice, who was showered with pre-engagement gifts from all of them. Rejoice is a princess in her village, so many men wanted to intermix with her noble bloodline.
However, Rejoice refused to get married to any of her suitors, even though a couple of them were extremely rich. Rejoice's refusal to get married was an extremely rare and controversial action on her part. Imagine a 12-year-old in an extremely strict male-dominated Islamic society (she's from the same region where Boko Haram is active) disobeying her mother and family!
Imagine a 12-year-old in an extremely strict male-dominated Islamic society (she's from the same region where Boko Haram is active) disobeying her mother and family!
Her mom died when she was 14 (her dad died when she was 9). Rejoice kept the marriage outfits stored in a safe place in her village. She wanted us to wear them, I was happy to oblige.
The tension mounted as the ceremony went on...
Rejoice puts the ring on!
You may now kiss the bride!
Our witnesses are on the far right: Ivor Makasa and Sillar Mwape Makasa (and their baby!) They graciously hosted us in their Livingstone house for over a week.
A French couple, Tristan Lhermillier and Aurelie Colot, attended the ceremony, along with their kids (who are not in the photo). Tristan and Aurelie were so inspired by our wedding that they got married two months later.
It was raining during the wedding, but after we exchanged vows, the rain stopped.
The River Club's library was cozy, but we didn't have time to read any books on how to get married.
I suppose we should have jumped in the pool, but instead....
....we just hooted!
Thank you to The River Club for hosting our wedding on such short notice!
Originally, we were planning to get married in Zimbabwe, but on March 8, just two days before the wedding, Zimbabwe refused to give Rejoice a visa (after taking a week to think about it).
Therefore, we had to rapidly shift the location to the other side of Victoria Falls: Zambia!
After the wedding, we had dinner at the restaurant at The Victoria Falls Waterfront. We also spent our wedding night there. The setting was stunning! A more extensive review of the Waterfront will come later.
And with the marriage complete, Francis and Rejoice Tapon walked off into the sunset to start a 2-year honeymoon that will take them to 24 African countries in 24 months.