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AfricaLive Friday, 12 July, 2002, 17:56 GMT 18:56 UK
Africa's big wedding day
Johnnie and Michele
Johnnie and Michele shared their wedding with the BBC

The big day finally came for Johnnie and Michele, last Saturday.

If you have been following their story, you'll know that Johnnie has been hoping and dreaming about this day ever since he caught sight of Michele's picture in his sister's photograph album, over two years ago.


Finally, they were together, alone. No guests, no families - not even any BBC microphones to keep them from each other.

He wrote Michele a letter telling her he thought she was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen.

She was surprised, not to say sceptical, at first, but eventually, such was Johnnie's charm and persistence, that she agreed to marry him without ever having set eyes on him.

Cosmopolitan

They lived in different continents, you see. He is from Liberia, but now serves as a nurse in the United States army.

She is from Burkina Faso, but during their romance she was studying in Paris, then in Accra.

Over the period of their courtship they have exchanged hundreds of letters, cards, emails and phone calls, but they have only ever spent a few weeks together.

Hence the excitement of the week they shared with Africa Live - a week leading up to their wedding, and a week when, finally, they were together.

Nerves

Michele spent the morning of the wedding at Mammy Coiffure, her favourite Ghanaian-run beauty parlour.

The place was packed with women getting their hair done, quite a few of them brides.

Only the day before, Johnnie had been warning Michele to get there early, as he reminded her, if you are planning a military campaign involving guns and large numbers of people, you cannot get the timings wrong - or be late, even by a fraction.

"Johnnie, this is a wedding, not the army!" Michele protested, "You have to wait me a little, little bit! I must be beautiful like a queen!"

And she was.

Better late...

Despite leaving herself only 40 minutes to dress. And she was on time at the church. Well almost.

Johnnie himself arrived only minutes ealier, looking very fine in his military uniform. Michele confided later that she thought he stole the show from her - but that was because she was gazing lovingly at him herself.

She was the real showstopper. Her dress had been brought all the way from Paris by her friend, Eugenie, Johnnie's sister, who introduced them.

It was magnificent, the train seemed to go on for ever, and fanned out behind Michele in a beautiful sweep of satin dusted with sparkling diamante and pearls. She looked radiant.

The couple looked very serious as they took their places for the ceremony before the pastor and all their friends and family. Both Michele and Johnnie are deeply religious, so to be expressing their love and cementing their union before God was hugely important for them.

Party time

There was light relief though. The church choir were in fine voice, and there were also musical contributions from both sides of the family.

Michele's family, the Lompos, come from the far east of Burkina Faso, near the Niger border, and a group of their kinsmen performed a wonderfully haunting tribute to the couple to the accompaniment of a traditional stringed instrument.

Next to take centre stage were Johnnie's junior brother Moise and his nieces Desiree and Huguette, who were also bridesmaids. They looked like a professional group in their matching dresses, and their voices were impressive as well.

MIchele
Africa Live! July bride was a showstopper

After the ceremony, there was food and drink for everyone. The bride and groom and their families were seated at long trestle tables, but there were several hundred others on benches beneath striped awnings in the church compound.

It was a good thing there was shelter, because the 35 degree celsius heat of the early afternoon gave way to a spattering rain and a dust storm. Diners covered their plates as best they could, but, somehow, on this happy day, even the red earth that fell on us all, and the darkening red skies, felt like a blessing.

After cutting the famous orange bible shaped cake, Michele and Johnnie were whisked away to a house Michele's father has rented for them for the week. Finally, they were together, alone.

No guests, no families - not even any BBC microphones to keep them from each other.

At the end of this week they leave together for Ghana where they will spend some time before Johnnie flies back to the USA.

Michele will join him in a month's time when he returns from a tour of service in Korea. We hope to hear from them then.


Interactive coverage

Mental health

Wedding couple

LISTEN TO AFRICA LIVE
See also:

08 Jul 02 | AfricaLive
02 Jul 02 | AfricaLive
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