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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tobaski in Tanji, 2010

Pictures (from top to bottom)
1. My host-mother, Bintou, with two visiting students from Sweden.
2. Getting ready to slaughter the ram.
3. - 24. Pictures of people dressed up for and praying during Tobaski in Tanji.
25. My host-father, Almami, and I.
As with the last two Tobaski prayers that I have attended in The Gambia, no one was sure of exactly when this years prayer was going to be. Some people said on Monday, others on Tuesday, and still others on Wednesday. Therefore, I decided to take the entire first three days of the week off ..... just to be safe. The people of Tanji prayed on Tuesday and I once again found myself putting on my finest Gambian clothes. I accompanied my host-father, Almami, to the prayer grounds and took a lot of pictures as all the people gathered and then prayed together. Just like in Sarre Alfa, the people of Tanji prayed in a large field behind their mosque, where they could comfortably sit in the shade of the large mango trees that stand throughout the field. Everyone, from children to elders, was dressed in their very best! After the prayer I returned home, grabbed my cutting boards and knives, and set about helping my host-mother, Bintou, prepare lunch (cultural gender roles be damned!). The men killed and slaughtered a ram and soon we had more meat than we knew what to do with. I ate meat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the next three days. Thank goodness for floss, that's all I have to say.
For the first time since my arrival in Tanji almost four months ago, I found the Tanji fish market completely empty. Most of the fishermen are actually Senegalese, so they had returned to Senegal for the prayer day. It would seem that the sheep population afforded the fish a break, for once. However, only a few days later the market was bussling once again and I was back to eating fish for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Though this was my first Tobaski in Tanji, it was my third (and last) one in The Gambia. No matter where I am next year, I will think back fondly on the memories of eating meat and dressing up for the prayer with my host-family.

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