Continental Drift

November 25, 2009

Is there a sheep in your trunk?

Filed under: Uncategorized — unaleona @ 8:07 pm

Happy Thanksgiving from Bamako (a little early).

Many of you have worried if I will be celebrating properly tomorrow, so I just wanted to reassure you that indeed, this is a holiday week in Mali as well.  First of all, I have officially been in Mali one month, a fact which we celebrated last Wednesday.  Then again, the American team is taking the day off tomorrow to cook up some Malian style American Thanksgiving treats.  We found cranberry sauce in the supermarket strangely enough, but the rest we are going to construct ourselves.  Pumpkin pie on the stove, anyone? I’m sure it will be delicious.  Since today and tomorrow are two MHOP birthdays (one Malian, one American) the fête will continue.

But the real fête will be this weekend, because Saturday is Seliba the huge party celebrated 70 days after Ramadan.  Everyone is busy now preparing the fête.  One thing that means, if you are a woman, is getting henna designs drawn on your feet and hands.

Fanta’s friend came to our compound to do our designs.

Hawa Gaku, the family matriarch, watched to make sure the toubab’s had nice looking feet.

Finished product:

This seems to be just about the biggest party of the year, so everyone has been gathering up the money to celebrate properly for weeks.  Besides getting your feet drawn on and making an outfit out of bazin, thisbasically means buying a sheep to sacrifice and eat.  The streets of Sikoro are swarming with sheep, I saw a sheep market yesterday which encompassed by far the largest number of sheep I’ve ever seen in one place in my life.  There were already two sheep in my compound when I arrived, but a few weeks ago a third arrived, courtesy of Tata’s father, and this week, a fourth was installed right outside of Alex Ruby’s door.

Here are the first three sheep.

This is our newest sheep neighbor.  He is the loudest, and his baas are very demanding.

Then it got loose while we were having our henna done.  After she and Fanta ran away in fright, Sita came to save us and recapture the sheep.  He’s actually quite friendly, though I’m trying not to get attached since he will soon be dinner.

Today a new wrinkle has appeared in fête preparations.  “They” said on the radio that the fête is not, in fact, on saturday, but is actually tomorrow.  Evidently, questions like this are possible since Seliba and the end of Ramadan both are determined by a lunar calendar.  It does seem a little last minute for confusion though, can you imagine if on a Thursday sometime in March, it was suddenly announced “Good Friday is actually tomorrow, not next weekend”?

But the sheep are still everywhere, even following us home.  Last night in our taxi home from the Thanksgiving food run, we heard a strange thumping coming from the trunk.

Saga be? (is there a sheep), we asked.
Awo, saga be.  (Yes there is).

We congratulated the man on his wealth to be able to purchase a sheep, and then listened to it thump all the way home.


1 Comment »

  1. Baaaa

    Comment by Paul — December 7, 2009 @ 4:22 pm | Reply

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