|Blocks of Salt|
In the late eighteenth century West Africans living in the Gambia River region viewed salt for seasoning their food as “the greatest of all luxuries,” writes English traveler Mongo Park. In Meta society in Cameroon the groom’s family sent a gift basket with a large cylindrical block of dried salt to the bride’s mother on the day following the wedding night. If the bride proved to be a virgin, the groom’s family sent an entire block of salt. But if the bride turned out not be a virgin, the groom’s family sent a block of salt with a hole drilled through it. Thus women who received a complete block of salt were praised in their village for doing such an honorable job raising their daughters and those who received a block with a hole were held in contempt for failing to raise a sexual pure daughter. Boy have times changed!
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