This morning I finally saw (and caught) the mysterious gyirigantoori that I’d heard about from my Mamprusi friends over the years. Turns out this “deadly” creature that they say can cause lightning to strike and inflict leprous wounds on anyone who touches its toxic tail is, in fact, just the harmless Hemitheconyx caudicinctus or African Fat-tailed Gecko. Folks are quite shocked and terrified that I am currently holding it in a box in my house.
I’m excited to be able to add it to the Mampruli-English Dictionary Project since the linguists had never seen one and weren’t sure what creature the Mampruli word described (they had it listed as a possibly poisonous skink).
It was much larger than I expected (7.6 inches) and quite aggressive. It would raise its body, hiss and strike when I would try to catch it. It bit me (I was wearing gloves) and though its teeth don’t amount to much, its grip was really strong.
Whenever misfortune enters a hole, you cut the tail.
When the goat bites the stranger, the dog is ashamed.
First off, ILoveMyLife’s name is actually Alimaatu. Also, the village she was married in is called Tubziya but its real name is Tuuzeaa. Tuuzeaa means “red baobab” – a very large tree found where the village’s founders first settled. Over the years (and probably due to Westerners who couldn’t pronounce it correctly) it has morphed into Tubziya which would translate to “ears place” and makes no sense.
You may remember Alimaatu (“ILoveMyLife”) as Heidi’s friend who had a salon where she’d get her hair cut. Alimaatu had a traditional marriage agreement done several years ago and she and her partner already have a five-year-old girl. As couples often do around here, they waited until they had the means to perform an “official” marriage ceremony. In this case, they are Muslim so it was an Islamic ceremony.
We weren’t able to attend the ceremony itself (it conflicted with a preaching engagement William already had in another village) but we carried the bride and her friends & family to the village in our truck. The next day we came back to pick them and see her in her fancy garb.
Since the wedding is over, she now has a room in her father-in-law’s compound (her husband does not yet have his own compound). She sat in her room with piles and piles of dishware that were given to her as wedding gifts (an important part of a good wife’s role is to prepare food for guests & funerals so she needs lots of bowls).
It was blazing hot (110F outside but who knows how hot inside) and they asked William to take photos of the newly weds. They caked a ton of makeup on her to hide the sweat but William was drenched. Heidi held a reflector to bring light into the dark room (which had no windows) and illuminate the beautiful bride.
Even though we didn’t attend the ceremony, the family was so grateful that we took the time to transport folks to and from the wedding. That’s what friends are for!
Here are some of the Mamprusi Paramount Chief’s Warriors (Kambonsi) having a laugh after I delivered to them a print of a portrait I made of one of them. Here’s the original shot:
The fool despises a gift, unaware that some people don’t get anything.