Friday, July 23, 2010
Eid al-Adha, or Tabaski as it is known in parts of West Africa, is the "Festival of Sacrifice" in which Muslims remember Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son at God's request. In the Islamic calendar year 1418, I was a Peace Corps volunteer in a small Soninké village in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. Soninkés typically celebrate Tabaski with great flare, notably an elaborate feast and continuous dancing. Having looked forward to what everyone assured me would be the meal of the year, I gathered with the rest of the village to watch a few men slaughter a meager looking cow who was carved up and divided into equally distributed piles. Come mealtime, I was disheartened to find all the "good" pieces of the animal shoved my way, i.e. the testicles, intestines and other choice organs. While the others dug in, I shifted rubbery nubs of cow around to make it look like I had enjoyed the meal.
What the celebration lacked at the communal bowl, it made up for on the dance floor. Spontaneous circles formed throughout the day with children dressed in their holiday finest - flamboyant booboos in loud patterns and colors and painstakingly braided coifs adorned with golden hair clips. Children and adults alike took turns busting a move while the others clapped and cheered them on. The cheers turned into jeers however when I entered the circle, unable to match their rhythm and grace. But I got mad props for trying.
This post was entered into the Grantourismo - HomeAwayUK Travel Writing Competition for July. We would love to hear your thoughts on the post.