‘‘Snapshots of a Wedding’’ was published in 1977 in The Collector of Treasures and Other Botswana Village Tales, Bessie Head’s first collection of short fiction. Though this particular story has not received a great deal of critical attention, Head’s short stories are well known for their portrayal of African village life and its traditions and customs. Head presents in her stories a world that is as rich in conflict and oppression, however, as it is in tradition.
‘‘Snapshots of a Wedding’’ focuses on the wedding of Neo, a young educated woman living in an African village, and Kegoletile, a young man ‘‘rich in cattle.’’ Kegoletile has impregnated both Neo and another woman, but can marry only one of them. The second woman, Mathata, is old-fashioned in her lack of education and contentment with village life. Neo, by contrast, is a ‘‘new’’ woman: well-educated and anxious to embark on a career that will allow her to improve her economic situation. Neo is also arrogant, proud of her education, and often condescending toward others, who accordingly resent her. The differences between these two women comprise the story’s major conflict. Though Kegoletile plans to marry Neo, he continues to find himself attracted to Mathata. He must choose between a happiness whose cost is the sacrifice of advancement, and an economic progress whose cost is the likely sacrifice of marital happiness and tradition.