Margaret Bassey Ene, a teenager among a group of people in Nigeria called the Efik, is beginning her journey into adulthood. This rite of passage includes spending months gaining weight and learning about the customs of her people while isolated in a ‘fattening room’. A typical day for Margaret would be forcing herself to eat bowls upon bowls of rice, yams, plantains, beans, and gari ( a porridge like mixture). When she is finished, Margaret will reenter society fat, a mark of female beauty among the Efik people.
The fattening room is almost like a kind of school where the girl is also taught about motherhood. Her expected daily routine is to eat, sleep, and gain weight. Females who do not participate in this tradition therefore not becoming fat are believed to be sickly and unable to bear children. To be called “slim” is actually considered abuse in their culture.
During Margaret’s time in the fattening room she is treated like a queen. She is banned from doing chores or any other physical activity. The only physical activity Margaret will partake in during this time is learning the traditional ekombi dance which she will perform at her wedding.
A traditional Efik wedding begins with a letter from the groom’s family to the bride’s. If the girl and her family consent a meeting will be arranged. The groom’s family will bring the beverages and the bride’s family will supply the food. During this occasion, the bride and the groom are not allowed to speak. If the meeting went well, a date is set for the wedding. On the actual wedding day, the bride will then perform the traditional ekombi dance learned during her stay in her the fattening room.
The purpose of the article is to not only inform people of Efik culture but to also enlighten them on different customs different cultures have. In Western cultures being fat is not consider to be more beautiful than being slim. Being fat in our culture is considered an insult whereas in Efik...