The Saharawi tribe sacrifice a camel with his own hands and then cut up to eat it the wedding day.
Before sunrise, the slaughterman, aided by a few men, will sacrifice the camel to be eaten by all the guests.
First, the obligatory ablutions, facing Mecca. Then, with a steady hand, he proceeds to slit the throat of the animal, held immobile by his assistants.
With two precise cuts of the knife, he slices through the aorta, killing the camel in a matter of seconds.
Acting fast, the men tear back the thick skin of the animal, revealing the fat reserves stored by the camel in its hump.
It is customary among the nomads to cut off a piece of this and eat it a tasty appetiser.
In the Sahara, it is very important to know how to efficiently slaughter an animal as valuable as the camel, which can only be eaten on very special occasions. An average family owns only a few female camels – the males fetch much higher prices. For the nomads, the raw liver is the most exquisite delicacy.
They believe that this valuable source of proteins gives them strength and virility.
In just a few hours, virtually the entire animal has been cut up. They have to work fast – in this climate, the heat will rapidly rot the dead body. The women of the camp come to collect their portions. Today, there is plenty of meat for everyone. An animal weighing 400 kilos, of which nothing is wasted, provides food for a great many people.
Some pieces of meat are hung from the LEKTUB, the guy ropes of the jaima, to be dried for later storage.
In the parents’ tent, the NEJAR EL AAGAD, the marriage contract is being formalised.
The parents of the bride and groom, with a SHAJED or witness for each family, are gathered in the presence of the CADÍ, the justice of the peace, who will give legal validity to the union.
The cadí is always a man of honour, venerable and of proven religiosity, belonging to the aristocratic caste of the ZUAIA, men of the book, who never perform manual work. Men and women sit together drinking camel’s milk from the same bowel. In Saharawi society, this is interpreted as a gesture of friendship.
The cadí reads out the conditions of the contract and asks the parents and the witnesses if they are in agreement.
Outside, the women expectantly follow what is going on inside.
Inside the jaima, the cadí attests that the trousseau and the cattle of the dowry are as agreed between the parents and then, along with his assistants, recites the Koranic precepts which will govern the marriage.