‘Why we faked our Facebook wedding’

The photo made people think they had got married

The photo made people think they had got married

She is successful, educated and attractive. They call her a leader – she coaches entrepreneurs and offers personal development training for a living. The only thing she’s missing, they say, is a husband.

Recently, something happened to remind her of just how much social pressure there is for young people in the Democratic Republic of Congo to get married.

On a late summer afternoon, the 33-year-old was invited to yet another friend’s wedding in the capital, Kinshasa – one of 30 invitations she had received in that year alone.

As is common in Congolese weddings, guests invited by the bride wore clothes with matching patterns, while the groom’s party wore a different style.

During the ceremony, Ms Agneroh sat next to her good friend, Jean-Félix Mwema Ngandu.

Innocently, a mutual friend took a picture of them sitting side by side at the wedding. He then posted the picture on Facebook.

Five minutes later, his phone was buzzing. He started laughing.

“What’s happening?” Ms Agneroh remembers asking.

“Everyone thinks you two got married!” came the reply.

“It was completely crazy. In a matter of minutes, dozens of people had commented on the picture and sent me messages of congratulations,” Ms Agneroh later told the BBC.

At the time, the two friends found it amusing – so to keep the story going, they decided to pose for a second picture, this time sitting in the “thrones” reserved for the married couple.

This time, they waited a few hours after sharing the photo on another friend’s Facebook page before checking the reaction.

“When I woke up the next morning, I had, without exaggerating, several hundred missed calls, WhatsApp and Facebook messages,” Ms Agneroh said.

“Some were from people I haven’t spoken to in 10, even 15 years. I don’t know how these people even got my number.”

“Seriously, when I talk about my work projects, I never get this kind of reaction,” Ms Agneroh said.

“This is the reality we live in and I saw it clearly on that day.

“It made me a bit sad because you reach a certain level where you are happy, but society pushes you to think you are incomplete.”

Mr Mwema Ngandu, 32, acknowledges they knew they would “create a buzz”, telling the BBC that “when we took the second picture, it was carefully planned”. -BBC

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