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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Doggy Denabo

A few weeks ago, before I got Ñankatan, 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 Ñankatan.  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: