Thursday, 8 November 2012

Njie Family Salibo
My Compound Family
The 26th October saw the Muslim festival of Eid-al-Adha, otherwise known as Tobaski in West Africa. It celebrates the day Abraham was prepared to sacrifice his son, Isaac, to God. As a result of his devotion and willingness to sacrifice his son in God’s name, God stopped Abraham and provided him with a ram to sacrifice instead. It is probably the most important time of year in the Islamic faith. Everyone travels home to their families to celebrate and the pressure for each family to have a ram to slaughter is enormous. Those that cannot afford a ram feel quite ashamed that they cannot afford one for their family. In the morning, they go to the prayer ground in their new or best clothes to pray with the local community. It is much the same as at Koriteh, only it felt more crowded this year. It is mainly the men who go and the women stay behind at home to prepare the lunch. On return from the praying ground, the men change then they slaughter and skin the ram, according to Islamic law. For those of a delicate disposition, skip to the next paragraph! They dig a small hole in the ground and then place the ram over this slit the ram’s throat and let the blood pour into the hole, where is seeps into the ground. Then they skin the carcass and remove the meat. They then keep some for themselves and give some to family and the remainder is given as charity, to those who cannot afford a ram of their own. One of the 5 pillars of Islam is Zakat, the giving of charity, so this is a very important aspect of Tobaski. Lamin walked out of the compound with a very large platter of meat for the neighbours who did not have a ram of their own.

Tobaski Ram (no longer!)
After this, the cooking of breakfast began. On the menu today and for the next few days was....any guesses? Ram, ram and more ram. I even had the delight of eating ram’s head...not once but twice! I wish I could say I was brave enough to try the brain or tongue, but I looked for the meaty parts and ate them. Then after lunch, as with Koriteh, groups of children came round in the sunglasses and new clothes for Salibo. It was a nice day and I am glad that I have celebrated it here in The Gambia as I suspect it is quite different to the UK.

Lamin & Sarah
After Tobaski I travelled to Kombos for Sarah’s wedding. She arrived back, with her parents, to marry Lamin and Lilli and I were bridesmaids. It was a lovely day and was good to catch up with her again. They married in the registry office in Banjul. It was quite an event, about another 5 couples were also marrying. We were all squeezed into one room where everyone was married one after the other. It was quite a surreal event what with the registrar’s being quite a scary woman, not to mention her phone going off in the middle of one of the marriages. Then there was the bride who kept falling out of her dress and exposing herself to one and all, the canned drinks that must be brought so that the marriage can go ahead!! We did wonder what they did with 48 cans of drinks, per wedding that is. We worked out it was about 250 cans for that day! Then it was to the place they had their first date for lunch, which was lovely. After which we spent the afternoon lazing round her hotel pool before heading out for some dancing in the evening.

But now is back to reality and work. I have another LCM workshop on Saturday for the Cluster Monitors and trainers. Even some of the Peace Corps in the area are coming along. So hopefully all will go well!

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