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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Doggy Denabo

A few weeks ago, before I got √Ďankatan, I was hanging out in another volunteer’s village talking with a Pulaar friend about my plans of getting a puppy.  I told her that in America, dogs are loved like children.  I said that people buy special food just for their dogs.  I said that dogs sleep in houses, sometimes on the same bed as their owners.  I said that if people hit dogs, they can go to jail.  The person I was talking to was flabbergasted and asked if my dog would be treated like a human.  I said yes – it would be my baby, and I would throw it a Denabo (naming ceremony) and everything.  I meant it as a joke, but the second the words were out of my mouth, I knew that I was actually going to do it.  

Originally, I wanted the denabo to be a small, reserved affair, for my family and a few close friends only, since I wasn’t sure how culturally appropriate it’d be to flaunt my disposable income on a party for a dog.  I tentatively brought up the idea to my family and my closest friends in village, and everyone loved the idea.  Word spread, and soon it seemed like everyone knew about the party.  My last shred of apprehension was erased when the village ceerno (religious leader) asked if I wanted him to ceremonially shave the dog’s head. 

I decided to make it a party to remember.  I figured worst case scenario, no one would come and my family would just eat better food than we usually do, and enjoy the leftovers for several days.  Best case scenario, lots of people would come and we would all have a great time.  

For about a week preceding the Denabo, I had the same conversation with hundreds of people in the village.  “Kadiatou!  I heard you are doing a denabo for your dog!” “Yes!  It is Thursday!  You are coming?” “Yes!  I will eat until I’m very full.”  “Yes!  You will dance also!”  “Yes!  I am happy!”  “I am happy!” 

When all was said and done, I blew about 40,000 CFA on food, tea, and batteries to keep my radio blasting Akon all day.  I have no regrets.  There were dozens of people in and out of my compound all day, and everyone was happy to see √Ďankatan.  I didn’t take as many pictures as I should have (I never do!) but here are some.  I also took a ton of video of people dancing, but my computer doesn't have any video editing software, so you'll have to wait for that.
Asu and Kadiatou with a cauldron of rice
Kim peelin' onions

Rice, oil, beans, and veggies!  This was probably the most delicious thing I've eaten in Senegal.

My delightful sitemate Kim gifted the baby a lovely sachet of powdered milk.
After Nankatan wiggled out of his collar and had it reattached several times, he ran off to hide it in some tall grass.  Smart dog.
Alpha has a heart of gold.
Mariama wore a new dress to the party
 Screen shots of the dancers, until I find a way to get video up:

Monday, October 13, 2014

Tabaski and a new puppy!

This is going to be a pretty short post because I have this waiting for me at home.

World, meet Nankatan.  Nankatan, meet world.
He's very small and doesn't have much of a personality yet, but makes up for it by being breathtakingly adorable.  He likes sleeping, eating, and urinating.  Sometimes he does two of the three at the same time, but hasn't achieved the trifecta yet.  He dislikes being alone, which isn't a problem during the day, but nights are a stuggle.  This momma is ready for her baby to start sleeping through the night.

Falling asleep while eating

In other news, last Sunday was Tabaski, the biggest holiday of the Muslim year.  It celebrates the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son to god.  God liked that blind devotion, so he substituted a ram for the kid at the last minute.  Now, it's celebrated throughout the muslim world by ceremonially killing a ram, then eating it.  

Remember learning about  American Indians using every part of the buffalo?  They've got nothing on the Pulaars.  This is literally all that was left over.  Everything else was eaten.  So many intestines in my dinner bowl!
A villager set up a meat cart so villagers that couldn't afford a whole ram could still buy a few kilos.  You know you've been an unintentional vegan for too long when this sight makes your mouth water...

Part of the holiday's tradition is that a portion of each family's sheep is supposed to be given away.  Since almost everyone had a sheep, there was a really comical hour where villagers were sending bowls of meat to neighbors, while meanwhile recieving bowls of meat from other neighbors.  I think everyone ended up with roughly the same quantity of meat they started with...regifting at its finest.

Grilling and eating corn

Fierce Gaga-ish heels, sported by the mother of my bastard Tokara

Cute kids
You're never too young for your first weave.
I gave my three favorite tweens makeovers, which made all other tweens in the village shoot me death glares.
Bright fabrics, bold prints, sparkles, beads, and ruffles ahoy.
That's it for now!  I'm gonna go home and play with my dog.