Mariama and Fifi

Half Bambara (Mali) and Half Serere (Senegal), Mariama and Fifi Sissoko entertain their Serere mothers with a Malian song that got everyone laughing 🙂

Tabaski Fashion

“The public holiday is also known as Tabaski or Eid Al Adha (Eid El kebir) when families throughout the Senegal ritually slaughter mostly sheep in ritual sacrifice. The occasion of Tabaski is in commemoration of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his own son, Ismail, in the name of Allah. It coincides with the end of the annual Hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca.

On the morning of Tabaski, worshipers will attend prayer at their local mosque before returning home to begin festivities. The day this falls on is Shawwal, indicated by tenth month of the lunar Islamic Calendar year and when the first crescent of a new moon is sighted. The Islamic calendar is about 10-11 days shorter than the solar year and thus Tabaski is never on a fixed date and always a source of conversation when the general time approaches.

Every adult or head of household is expected to buy a sheep or other suitable animal such as a cow, goat or even chicken if they can. When sacrificing the animal a sharp knife should be used and Allah’s name is spoken. After the animal is slaughtered large portions of the meat should be given to the needy so that nobody misses out on the celebrations to follow. The rest of the meat is given as gifts to friends and relatives and the rest is reserved for the family. Indeed, the idea of sharing (about 2/3 of the animal) is the essence of feast.

What follows is essentially one nationwide massive barbecue and celebrations throughout the day. Senegalese should wear their finest clothes and if possible brand new. You are also expected to do a thorough spring clean throughout your compound. You are expected sometime during the day to visit your parents, other family members, neighbors and friends.

On Tabaski day one will often see Senegalese kids asking for pocket money or food (corn, rice, etc) from family and neighbors. They use the money to buy ice cream and other goodies. At this time most Regional capitals and large towns are jam packed full of kids crowding streets, shops and boutiques or even knocking on your compound door. They are also allowed out late by many parents as long as they are accompanied by an older child.” — Mbouille Diallo, Safety and Security Coordinator, Peace Corps, Senegal

Coura Fall

My niece says she wants to quit school. She already finished middle school, she only has three more years left and she’ll be a high school graduate. Three years! That isn’t a long time! I told her, you want to be stupid like me? I can’t even read my identity card. I don’t know anything…