The work of the magnonmakan begins three days before the wedding ceremonies. During that period, referred to as konoboli-so1, the nuptial advisors have the assign­ment to prepare the bride for the intense sexual activity that will take place in the following week. The main assumption being that the bride is a virgin who may re­sist a fast attempt to remove her virginity in the course of one night. This special treatment seeks to diminish her strength to resist sexual intercourse.

Assistance during the wedding periodOn D-day, after a variety of marriage ceremonies and festivities, the magnon – makan discreetly brings in the bride to the nuptial room[109]. Before leaving, she will ask the couple to be mutually respectful and call on her help if needed. Currently, few couples need the involvement of the nuptial advisor due to a high prevalence of premarital sex, and a scarcity of arranged marriages in which her assistance is often needed to break the ice beforehand. The magnonmakan is particularly helpful

Assistance during the wedding period

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Assistance during the wedding periodAssistance during the wedding periodAssistance during the wedding period

in cases where there is a large age gap between the groom and bride or when the bride has been infibulated to prevent earlier sexual acts.

In the morning following the celebration of the marriage, a group of ‘bride’s mothers’ greets the new couple, to the sound of various musical instruments. This customary visit aims at finding out whether the bride was ‘found home’ (i. e. a vir­gin). If the answer is in the affirmative, there will be songs thanking her and ex­alting the merits of her upbringing. If the opposite is the case, her reputation and that of her family will be spoiled forever. Currently, the usual response to such disappointing behaviour is a ‘collective denial’. The bride and her parents would still be congratulated in public, through songs and implicit compliments. Some­times, the pretence goes as far as giving the traditional gifts to the bride, suggest­ing that she has met the social expectation.

All week long, the couple indulge themselves with multiple visits from rela­tives and friends, who bring in unusually enriched meals, sweets and drinks. Tra­ditionally, the bride’s peer group give daily entertainment through songs that cel­ebrate womanhood and motherhood. The groom may come out to greet or sit down with visitors, whereas the bride is confined inside a mosquito-net for the whole week, wearing a light white veil (payini) to ensure a good tan of her body and face when she is released from seclusion. Her immediate needs are taken care of by a kognio wuluni [110] whose role is to run her errands, maintain the premises, and help in food preparation for the bride.

With regard to services rendered, there is a wide range of actions undertaken by the magnonmakan to create an atmosphere of enchantment and leisure around the new couple. She is believed to have outstanding skills entrenched in a large base of knowledge and supernatural power. She is the real master of the nuptial ceremonies in charge of preparing, protecting and supervising the couple during the seclusion period and thereafter. She fixes the time and length of visits to the bride, and watches her behaviour closely. The bride should not talk much, should eat moderately, and be quiet about what goes on ‘behind the curtains’. The mag – nonmakan is the principal entertainer of the couple, which allows her to teach and discuss with them a variety of subjects. She informs them about their social status and family roles, stressing the importance and norms of marriage in society. She gives advice about many aspects of a married woman’s life: domestic obligations, behaviour towards the husband, his relatives and friends, and the neighbours. In the case of a Muslim couple, she is also in charge of the spiritual education of the couple by maintaining a routine of prayers done on time and correctly, after teaching them the purification methods required after sexual intercourse.

Sexuality is never discussed as much and as openly as in this period of wom­en’s life. The nuptial advisor teaches the virgin bride how to give pleasure to a man or help the already sexually active bride to improve her sexual performance. She puts in daily meals and drinks special herbs, roots and plants, known for their aphrodisiac effects. She also prepares and gives to the bride a set of specially

Arnfred Page 177 Wednesday, March 3, 2004 2:38 PM


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