Our second time in our Community Based Training village, we were there for Tabaski! A Muslim holiday. Or should I say THE Muslim holiday. It was awesome! I got clothes made last time I was there and they were ready (could hardly believe it) in time for the holiday. In the days leading up to Tabaski, the market was CRAZY packed. Busy, colorful, chaotic. Everyone scrambling to get last-minute gifts and clothes and earrings, new shoes, food, etc. On the day of Tabaski, I woke up and both my mothers were gone at the market. They came back with HUGE buckets on their heads filled with onions and potatoes. We (the women and girls) immediately set to work peeling potatoes and cutting onions with dull knives that the little children would occasionally steal and run around with. No one worried. At one point, hours into cutting onions, I realized I hadn’t eaten breakfast so I grabbed my loaf of French bread and wandered outside just in time to see my Baaba pin down the sheep and cut it’s throat. All the boys helped hold down the sheep and then took the machete to it. The women came from the backyard to grab buckets of meat and take them to the backyard (aka my kitchen). The head and legs were kept separate. A bucket of meat donated to the needy. My Baaba took the liver inside and grilled it on a little charcoal grill in the hallway and fed it to me and the 2-year old.
Lunch time! We made a bowl for the kids and a bowl for the men. I was invited to eat with the men. Potatoes, onion sauce, and meat eaten with bread. We ate until another bowl was delivered to our door, when we then passed our bowl to the kids and we started on the new bowl. Same food. Eat until another bowl is delivered. Pass to kids. Same food. Repeat 4 more times. Then I went with the women to deliver bowls and eat with them. Then with my 14year old sister to deliver more bowls. Everywhere we go, orange soda or tea is being drank celebratorily. This was the entire day! Then we all took bucket baths and put on our fancy clothes and paraded around! The kids trick or treat for money door to door. Everyone is so dressed up and colorful and wearing perfumes. Everyone visits each other to say they are sorry for anything they had done to each other in the previous year and to promise to be better towards each other in the next year. My outfit was amazing. Can’t wait to upload pictures. I was getting cat-called by middle-aged women blocks away as I walked through the streets hahaha I must have been a sight: a Toubob (white person/foreigner) in traditional Senegalese attire, head wrap and all. Everyone in my village knows me too. All the kids loved it. My family talked about it for the rest of the week. Not really sure exactly what they were saying though haha. They definitely could have been making fun of me for all I know.
Turns out, the holiday lasted for 3 days. Nothing really happened though. Just, people didn’t work, the market and corner stores were closed, family visited from Dakar. We ate onion sauce and sheep meat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner… For the rest of the week… I think I was eating the same sheep for about 7 meals. There are no refrigerators here. Think about that for a minute. Our Popsicle lady (there’s an underground economy here of women who sell breakfast sandwiches on the street or Popsicles from their kitchens – yes some people are wealthy enough to have fridges and I think this is how they pay the energy bills) anyways, we walked over to visit our Popsicle lady a few days after Tabaski Day 1, we walk into her compound and see her roasting the sheep head on a little charcoal grill. Probably how mine ended up too.. Or I probably ended up eating it in lunch, day 4. I don’t really want to know.
Anyways, that was Tabaski. Kind of anticlimactic, very sober, and with a lot of sheep meat and orange soda. And very colorful clothes. It was awesome!




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