Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Special Occasions

There haven't been many big holidays lately, but in January there was the Grand Magal, when many members of the Mouride brotherhood make a pilgrimage to the conservative religious city of Touba to commemorate the exile of Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba, who was persecuted for his piety. Magal isn't really a big thing down in the south of Senegal, where there aren't many Mourides and people tend to be less conservative, but I still heard people talking about it from time to time. (For example, I wear pants pretty much every day in Kédougou, but up in Touba women are not allowed to wear pants in public.)

The last holiday that we celebrated in Salémata was Gamou, the Birth of the Prophet Muhammad. It's Mawlid in Arabic, I think Gamou is from Wolof, but that's what everyone seemed to be calling it in French and Pulaar, too. 

I've heard that some people make a pilgrimage to Tivaouane for Gamou, but in Salémata they rented a big tent and we just had a big get-together around the mosque. People came out of the woodwork (and over from Guinea) to hang out in the mango grove and cook rice with meat in giant, cauldron-like marmite pots. This was just before the first round of elections, while there were still a lot of very angry protests happening in Dakar and some of the other big cities, and my host father explained that everyone would be praying for peace, which I thought was good. 

Some members of my extended host family came down from Dakar, for Gamou and to get away from the election strife, and Mariama Kesso got a chance to show off how chubby and adorable her daughter Fatou has gotten. Everyone wanted a photo with Fatou, and she got tired of being posed with after a bit, but it was still cute.

The Red Cross Youth Group did a lot of cooking and carrying huge bowls of rice and meat around to different groups of people; Daouda "Petit" Ba came late and got a bowl all to himself; Sadat Souaré (my host father, in white with the red scarf) walked around, greeting everyone and explaining things to me.

The Youth of Salemata
 The younger kids spent most of the day playing around, the same way they usually do when they don't have school. My little host brother Mankaba (on the right) and his friends had some sort of imaginary kitchen going on. I think.

Me and the Host Fam

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