Thursday, November 10, 2011

...and what a day it was

I woke at the normal hour, 8am, and made my way up to our roof where my sisters, aunt, and maids were already preparing food.  Joining right in, I began cutting onions and potatoes.  My dad and brother were already at the mosque--all men go to the mosque for morning prayers on Tabaski.  As soon as they returned, everything happened very fast.  Two of our neighbors came over (two young men), they led the mouton over to wash basin (as you can see in my photo from the last post), and held it down with the help of my brother.  My dad had the small knife in his hand at that point, and took it to the mouton's throat. The 2nd mouton followed right away.  I won't go into too much detail here, but there was a lot of blood. I heard them take their last breaths.  As painful as it must have been for the sheep, their lives ended swiftly.  To be honest, I was not as affected by the killing as I thought.  Everything happened so fast, I didn't have time to sit there are really think about what was happening.  I had to remove myself at a few moments, but my host dad was very professional and matter of fact about the whole thing.  IT was not a celebration of brutality in any way--very peaceful. Before I could blink, two teenage boys began skinning the moutons, cleaning them and butchering the meat (this took about 2 hours).  I received a complete lesson in sheep anatomy.  We grilled all the meat, and I do have to say it was absolutely delicious.  I ate grilled, salted, sheep liver, and I enjoyed it (it was way better than Henry's chopped chicken livers...sorry dad).
Apparently mouton has triptophan (spelling?) in it just like turkey does, because everyone napped after the meal.  When I woke up around 6, we all started getting ready for the night's festivities.  Here I am in my outfit, specially made by my host mom (who is a tailor), with my little sister Naimarie and Nogaye, one of the maids.

The night's activities consisted of countless visits.  Family and friends filtered in and out of our house, and we did the same, hopping from house to house in the neighborhood.  I saw all of my friends who live in my neighborhood, Mermoz.  Here is a pic to my friends Lauren (middle) and Rachel.  It was so fun being all dressed up and parading around--everyone wants to show off their outfits.  

My night ended at a Youssou N'Dour concert! For those who don't know, he is the most famous Senegalese musician: a world renowned artist! He usually plays on the night of Tabaski to a sold out audience.  Imagine Aerosmith playing a sold out show in Boston in their hayday...but Youssou Ndour is at a national level.  In typical Senegalese fashion, it was hot, loud, and packed, but I loved seeing everyone still dressed in their finest Tabaski attire.  Everyone in the crowd knew every word to every song.  The last song of the night was "Birima", the one song I really know! 

What struck me most on Monday was my conversation with my host dad before I left for the concert.  He had been MIA for most of the evening, and when I asked him where he had been, he said he went back to the mosque.  He needed to pray for the moutons because it is so hard to kill him.  He told me he wasn't going to be able to sleep that night.  Not once before Tabaski did he mention any reservations about killing the moutons because it is a responsibility he naturally assumes as the oldest man in the family.  I was touched by the humanity behind this difficult aspect of Tabaski.  It changed my perspective of what it means to be a good Muslim.  

Tuesday marked the start of a month long research project I will be doing. Classes are over, I'm on my own time now.  I will be studying the Car Rapide--a funky mode of public transportation in Dakar.  I'll be taking them around the city, interviewing lots of people, and learning about the origin and significance of the art adorning the cars.  I chose the cars as my focus because I believe they are the most symbolic image of urban Senegal.

1 comment:

  1. merrill! you look gorgeous! i love to hear about your travels! xx