Authorities in Cameroon have started organising mass public weddings when couples can marry for free to try to promote family values and provide what they say is a more secure environment to bring up children.
Some 52 couples, both Christian and Muslim, tied the knot in the central African country’s first mass ceremony late on Thursday, overseen by council officials in the capital Yaounde in front of thousands of family, friends and on-lookers.
“Our aim is to grant the man and the woman legal status as husband and wife,” said Suzanne Bomback, minister of Women’s Affairs and Promotion of the Family.
“It is part of a mission to protect the rights of the family, to promote stability and peace within families.”
With polygamy legal in Cameroon, some men taking part in Thursday’s ceremony hoped it would not be their last.
“I accept them with joy and an open heart,” said Ali Abba Adji when asked by the local mayor whether he accepted the hands of the three women who stood next to him.
“I’m going in for polygamy. I’m looking forward to taking a fourth one,” he added, raising his hands in the air as the crowd applauded.