Wooden Spoon

Relationship: Child of im/migrant
A simple version of a wooden spoon.
A simple version of a wooden spoon.

This wooden spoon is used in everyday Soninke-Gambian life. It is used for drinking porridge, mixing sour cream, and for making very popular dishes. However, this spoon has a very symbolic meaning behind it. A more decorated and fancier version of the spoon is used during wedding ceremonies. After all the festivities are over on Thursday (the common day for most weddings in the Soninke culture) on that night or early Friday morning, the young girl is washed and prepared to be given to her husband. After the washing is done the young girl is draped from head to toe in all white clothing. Before the bride can be taken away the wooden spoon is used between the mother and daughter to symbolize all the responsibilities of becoming a mother and being a wife is being passed down to the bride. The young bride and her mother will pass the spoon between each other three times. After the third time, the young girl takes the spoon and is accompanied by singing griots, elderly members of the family, a couple of her closest friends, and a mediator between the two families. Often girls that get married in the Soninke tribe of The Gambia are young, so an elderly member from the family explains to the bride how the final step before the marriage is official is done. The girl is then taken to a room with her husband who is also dressed in all white and the test to see if the girl remained pure and a virgin takes place. Since the wooden spoon is used for preparing food, passing it back and forth between a mother and daughter, symbolizes the bride taking on the responsibilities of a wife.

Place(s): The Gambia, Senegal, Mali
Year: 1995

– Hawa Fofana

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant