ALERT-Graphic Animal Slaughter Material to Follow. Turn back if Squeamish!!! Follow this link to see the less graphic photos
Tabaski or Eid al-Adha (“Festival of the Sacrifice”), also called the “Sacrifice Feast”, is the second of two Muslim holidays celebrated worldwide each year, and considered the holier of the two. It honors the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son, as an act of submission to God‘s command, before God then intervened sending his angel Jibra’il (Gabriel) to inform him that his sacrifice had already been accepted. The meat from the sacrificed animal is divided into three parts. The family retains one third of the share; another third is given to relatives, friends and neighbors; and the remaining third is given to the poor and needy.
Now that that lengthy explanation is out of the way I can tell you how I spent my Tabaski.
I was invited by counterpart and friend Foday Drammeh to spend Tabaski with him and his family. the best (or worst depending on who you’re talking to) part of Tabaski is the slaughter of the ram. Not only it is religiously significant in the Muslim faith it also mean that there ‘s meat. You see most days there isn’t any meat and very little protein available for the whole family so this holiday is nutritionally significant as well as religiously important here in The Gambia. Oh and we get to slaughter a ram.
Tatai is the one bending over pretending to help. He just wanted to be in the picture. He said he wasnt dress for slaughter.
This is Foday Drammeh. He also volunteers to work with TAD while also taking care of his elderly father and practically running his compound. Even with all of those responsibilities Foday still finds the time to let me drag him to Peace Corps trainings. Right now he’s has experimental upland rice plots and is working a cashew and mango orchard.
He is also president of the youth group in his Home village, Perai Tenda, as well as local soccer player and judge/recorder person (I don’t know soccer so someone help!!)
So as every volunteer knows, good counterparts are hard to come by. You have to find someone that isn’t hindered by familial responsibilities and is willing to listen to you. They have to be willing to try something new without immediate beneficial results and often with the rest of the surrounding discouraging them and telling them that whatever they are trying is hopeless. That why I’m so fortunate to have two dedicated individuals who are willing to stand out and even be mocked just to improve their lives and hopefully the community.
This is my friend and counterpart Abdoulie Manneh. He is married with 2 sons and a baby of unknown sex on the way (no ultrasounds in the bush).
He works with a community based organization (CBO) called the Tumana Association for Development as a community out reach worker. His primary roles and responsibilities are liaison between the local bank and the villages in the district. He creates their accounts with the bank, manages their savings and deposits, and helps procure loans. The amazing things is that that he does this by hand without out the work of computers and most of the clients are illiterate so all forms and monetary records for over onehundred villagers are kept up by him. He also goes village village meeting primarily with women to educate them on health issues, like breast feeding and healthy food choices. A few months ago I took him to the Gender & Development training where we learned about gender issues in the Gambia: contraception myths, birth spacing, gender inequality in The Gambia, child development, etc.
Before I came to The Gambia one of the things I was most curious about the different hairstyles that people do here. You see the usual corn rows and ponytails but some the styles I’ve seen here I’ve never seen in the states. I’m only 26 and I haven’t seen everything but still…why haven’t I seen these styles in the states yet? These girls are gorgeous and rockin their hair and new outfits for Tabaski.
So weave aside, except for a few pics, here are some completely natural hairstyles.
Sorry about the quality but these ladies are camera shy. Stuff about cameras taking your soul if you look directly into them…
Umi is 14 years old, the oldest girl out of my host mom Fatoumata’s 6 children, and my first little sister ever. She’s sweet and kind and like any teenager she disappears to who-knows-where with the cool kids after her chores are done.
First let me give props to all the big sisters out there who have no choice but to have their little sister follow them around at the most inconvenient time, tell them things them don’t care about, and just generally bother them when they aren’t in the mood. I feel your pain now.
Big sister woes aside, Umi is one of the few children in my village who wants to go to school and want to learn to read an write. She practices a few hours a day with whatever pens or pencil nubs she can find and paper I’ve usually supplied her to practice her alphabet because she’s still at kindergarten level. The sad thing is that someone so dedicated and smart is not allowed to go to school because my host father doesn’t like the Western schools here and mostly because she’s girl. Most people like my father don’t see the point of educating a girl child because you don’t need to be smart to cook, clean, and pop out a baby every year. The only thing being smart and educated does is give you the tools analyze your world and yourself. But we cant have that because then women will start thinking and making decisions, and then what will their husbands do?
Yeah, school is compulsory here and education is free but that doesn’t mean the rules are enforced or that parents care. Don’t get me wrong, parents here love their children like any half-way decent parent should but most don’t see the value of education. This is the part of early foreign aid requiring conversions to Christianity for children to attend school and the push for Western values over Islamic values in a culturally insensitive way over the years. This has lead to a distrust of schools in general, Western schools in particular, that keeps children in the fields and out of school because parents want to raise their children their own values that they feel aren’t at these Western schools.
There are success stories and there are exceptions where girl children persevere and go to school. I know because I’ve me these amazing women but the sad reality is that no matter how much I help her its not the same as school. Her chances at an education a near non-existent and she’ll probably be married in the next two years and be the property of her husband.
Umi will not be a success story or an exception to the rule