tabaski, baby birthday party, moringa, and girls’ scholarship winners!

A few weeks back was Tabaski, the holiday celebrating Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his first-born son. Here in Senegal they sacrifice sheep or goats and have an all day meat-a-thon barbecue. And of course, wear really pretty clothes. I was not excited to find out that rainy season is followed by second hot season, actually a hot and humid season, which was gross, and am eagerly awaiting the “cold” season (average temp will go down to around 70 degrees F!), which is supposed to start soon. It has been nice to have the harvest start to come in though, for a while we were eating roasted corn everyday (below is corn being dried on a shade structure roof to be eventually ground into coucsous) and now we get fresh or roasted peanuts everyday – the fresh ones are so good – I had no idea what peanuts fresh out of the ground tasted like before, they are delicious! Almost like soybeans or something, kind of juicy.

 Also, a random comment on food – I believe I’ve mentioned how bean sandwiches are a real culinary luxury here – I start looking forward to my morning bean sandwich at about 6pm the night before. With a little homemade mayonnaise with onions mixed in they are SO good. I would like to write a public thank you to the British newspaper the Birmingham Observer. I don’t know how or why, but for some reason the back issues of this newspaper show up in my town and the bean sandwich ladies use scraps of it to wrap around the sandwiches – which means not only do I get a delectable breakfast treat, it comes with an English-language newspaper to read while I eat it! If you have any questions about Birmingham real estate, or restaurants that opened there last year, ask away!

Here is everyone praying under the big tree on the morning of Tabaski, just like on Korite.

My neighbor Lamine, host brother Mahamadou (in the dark blue) who is a teacher in the north of Senegal so is only in Kolda during school holidays, my work courterpart Makham (in white) and Alassane

Alassane and Mahamadou (and Sali cooking in the background). Warning: sheep slaughter coming up

Slaughtering the sheep. After most of the blood had drained from its neck and it seemed pretty dead it got a second wind and tried to get up and run away, which was a bit disconcerting.

Of course George Michael was very excited to drink the entire pool of fresh sheep’s blood

Mutton anyone?

Sali begins the barbecue, George Michael avidly watches in the background.

Tabaski street fashion! Kids go around asking for “salybo” or small gifts for the holiday, kind of like trick or treating. They usually get little candies or coins.

More street fashion. Love the matching complets.

Biri, my host mom Kindi, Mahamadou and Alassane during the nighttime festivities.

My friend Jabbu in her pretty complet

Alassane, Biri, and Sali (and George Micheal)

Griot musicians playing a kora, made from a calabash. Was a welcome musical change from the constant blare from speakers rented for marriage or baptism celebrations, blasting the same 10 or so songs or repeat (hint: that includes lots of Akon).

I’m starting to feel busier work-wise which is great, although I do still feel a bit lost some days and ponder, in the words of Simon and Garfunkel “I’ve got nothing to do today but smile”, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that it seems that  my host family and neighbors are not really interested in any of my work projects, just in the idea of me cooking for them, having my hair braided, and wearing fancy complets. Oh, and being the official neighborhood photographer. No problem with that last one. Here are some pics I took as follow up to the bed net care and repair event – showing families from my neighborhood with their nets, which will be displayed at the health post as a “bed net pride” kind of thing, ie. “I sleep under my bed net and so should you!”

Last week, my host sister Sali said she was going to have a 1st birthday party for her baby Biri, which I was skeptical of because they don’t celebrate birthdays here, or even know birthday dates, but as I soon found out, she was not fooling around.

Some volunteer neighbors – Chelsea and Julia, came by during the day to celebrate.


The birthday girl, Biri! With proof that George Michael doesn’t bite, he just likes to hold your hand with his mouth.

What happens when I try to get Biri to take pictures with me past her naptime

As I said, Sali was not fooling around. She borrowed my candle and we sang Joyeux Anniversaire and a neighbor fried up about a million delicious beignets (only a small portion is on the plates here, each kid got to take home like 10)

Me, my host mom, Jama (a cousin who has started living with my family), Biri, Sali and (half of) Alassane

Biri and Kindi

Dancing in the dark – unfortunately I did not get to partake very much because I volunteered to cook dinner that night – mixed reviews though but that meant more pasta and sauce for me!

Alassane Biri and me

Dinner time! Pasta and sauce with carrots and green pepper

My work zone is now on a moringa tournee, teaching about its nutritional benefits and how to plant intensive beds. Steph, one of my neighbors, and me are demonstrating seeding an intensive bed in Julia’s village

Random but really cute picture of Biri and Sali at lunchtime one day.

Middle school started this past Monday, so I went around on Sunday and distributed the new school supplies to the winners of the girls’ scholarship program (we’re having an official ceremony next week). Congrats to Mane, Maimouna, and Fatou!! And thanks to those of you who contributed to the scholarships!

Mane with her new book bag chock-full of supplies

Maimouna going through her new stuff. She definitely won best family reaction, with her little siblings clapping for her and congratulating her, her little brother (on the right) excitedly screamed when he saw the contents of the backpack “Now you have everything!! EVERYTHING!!”

Fatou and her new supplies

This week and next Senegal is doing meningitis vaccinations en masse, here is the local medical professional Keita giving vaccinations in the brand new classroom building at the middle school

Moringa mural we painted at my health post in Dabo, showing its nutritional benefits











2 responses to “tabaski, baby birthday party, moringa, and girls’ scholarship winners!

  1. Moringa plants look interesting. You will have to help me plan my spring garden when you come for Christmas.

  2. Pingback: tabaski street fashion and more | sophie in senegal

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