Wednesday, November 24, 2010

this is what fly looks like

i took this one because every single one of these girls had a lovely complet (that means outfit) and prayer shawl. can you see all the glitter?

a glance at the prayer fields, the man in the middle is reading from the Koran

the boys all dressed up

some lovely girls from the hood striking a pose, or, as they call it, "making a style"

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

ram season!

that's right, it's ram-mer time.
next week is Eid al-Adha, also known as Tobaski in West Africa, the Muslim celebration of Abraham being willing to sacrifice his own son to God as a sign of his obedience. luckily for Ishmael (Abraham's son) Allah was merciful and at the last moment allowed Abraham to sacrifice a ram instead. thus, every year on the 10th day of the 12th Islamic month, Muslims around the world sacrifice a ram (or a cow, or a goat, or a camel) to represent the sacrifice Abraham would have made. Each family here sacrifices, and the 1/3 of the meat is retained, 1/3 is given to relatives, and 1/3 is given to the poor.
i was here for Tobaski last year, so i know generally what will go on. here are some givens for a Gambian Tobaski celebration (or as i like to call it, ram season)... WILL see gellys careening down the roadways at full speed with multiple rams and goats tied to the roof... WILL see children petting and playing with the ram they will be eating hours later... WILL be asked to watch everyone slaughter their rams, no matter how many times you say you don't want to see that... WILL have handfuls of ram meat shoved into your face for at least 3 days... WILL have to buy a fancy new outfit and accessorize it with every sparkly piece of jewelry you can lay hands on... WILL not be able to do any work for the week preceding and the week following Tobaski... WILL hear conflicting reports on which day Tobaski actually begins, and find that different villages celebrate on different days... WILL hear at least one story about a family who's Tobaski ram gave them the slip...

and so many other things. i am very excited for Tobaski this year, partially because I'm going to be spending it with my host family and partially because i'm going to make my students dissect their ram hearts (what a perfect time to be learning the circulatory system). Tobaski is a fun holiday, despite it's seemingly somber roots, it's a very happy time. families come together, everyone goes home from the city to visit their villages, and after the prayer fields in the morning it's nothing but a party. it's the one time the ladies get to try and outshine each other without having to make sure they don't look as good as the baby's mother or bride, like at naming ceremonies or weddings. i'll try and get plenty of pictures, everyone is sure to look amazing.
also, i'm very excited to go to the prayer fields, because i missed it last year due to training activities. i might be the most excited about this, because the sight of everyone in my village praying at once is sure to be a beautiful thing. one of my favorite things about observing the Muslim community I live in is seeing how much their faith unifies them. they believe so strongly as a community, it's almost tangible. i know that it will be a very special morning.
and then we get to sit down on the brand new ram rugs and talk about who has the best new outfit.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


why, you may ask?
because i have officially been in the Gambia for a year (and a few days).
i was busy doing stuff in the village so i didn't get to do any celebration but i decided to redesign the blog. do you like? if you do, great, if you don't tooo bad.
the background looks suspiciously like a coastal village where i spend a majority of my time.
anyways i'll probably do a real post when i can form coherent thoughts.
but for now...just know i made it through my first year. YAY.