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Last updated: 16 July, 2007 - Published 15:00 GMT
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The fattening rooms of Calabar
Happiness Edem
Happiness Edem has no regrets about going through a fattening regime prior to her marriage to Prince Morris Edem.
A married couple from Calabar Nigeria have talked to Outlook about how for them fatness denotes high status.

Morris Eyo Edem and his wife Happiness spoke to Outlook reporter Sam Olukoya about the fattening regime in Calabar which enabled Happiness to put on the pounds before her marriage seven years ago.

"When you are in fattening room," she explained, "In the morning you eat fine. After eating you can take bath from there you can sleep, you sleep fine, you wake up, you eat, you sleep."

Happiness said that she spent about 6 months in the fattening centre, and that after eating 8 meals a day, her body shape had changed completely - to the delight of her husband, who, as a prince, requires a particularly large wife.

"After the fattening room, I continued to maintain her by feeding her because I like that stature," he said, "I continue to feed her with what she has been feeding from the fattening room, such as our native salad Ekpan Koko, and the other one called Oto.

"Here in our place one thing that gets somebody fattened immediately is overnight soaking of garri to make you fresh and fat.

"I add rice and beans and more meat and fish to make her more huge and big to maintain the stature you want your woman to be."

 When you are fat, it makes you look healthy. People respect you. People honour you. Wherever you go, they say your husband feed you fine.

The Prince says that a slim wife would have no appeal for him.

"I don't think I will ever even do that," he said, "They will think I am not rich...

"If a woman is not fat and has not gone through that process she does not qualify for marriage."

The Prince and his wife, who belong to the Efik tribe, certainly see no reason to change.

"When you are fat," said Happiness, "It makes you look healthy. People respect you. People honour you. Wherever you go, they say your husband feed you fine.

"If you go to a village, people can come out to look at you, because you are healthy."

Happiness says she has never suffered any health problems as a result of her stature.

"It is all about cultures," said her husband, "The culture here in our area, permit woman to go into fattening room, but the culture in Europe and other Asian or American does not."

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