Merry Christmas everyone- hope all is peaceful over there!
Well, here we just had the Muslim Big Holiday of Tobaski, where they sacrifice a ram and just cook the hell out of the poor thing- they cook every. single. part and then, with the ram testicles, which are schockingly large, they make purses out of them! In the morning, the old people and most males go under a big tree and pray, and then the imam (spiritual leader) goes around and kills the rams of those who were able to get one. The first goat meal is "sauce"- a bowl full of fried potatos, onion, other tubors, oil, and hacked up ram, including heart, lougs, stomach and plenty of splintered bone so that the marrow doesn't go to waste. Then they tear up bread and sop up the goo... it was glutinous and so good. Then they roast the hoofs and legs, head, ect and throw it all in a cauldron with water to stew... the deliciousness that results is served on top of cere (the millet) or rice for the next 6, maybe 7 meals in a row. For me, I can grab a Fast Ali's extra burger every now and then... but for them, it's the only meat they'll get all year so you see why they make the most of it. Last year, Tobaski fell on my second day in village. I didn't eat with the family but got a bowl of my own... I remember opening the bowl, looking and the "meat" parts and thinking it looked like a diagram of a cell (golgi apparatus here, endoplasmic reticulum there...). But this year when my host mom poked a crinkly piece of what could have been an aorta to my section of the food bowl I just said Bisimilah and chowed down... heh heh are you guys grossed out?
In the afternoon of Tobaski and the day after, everyone dresses up in their new clothes (the only ones they get all year usually) and goes from door to door around the village with their age mates in a group, asking for "Salibo!" That means the compound should give them a dalasi or 50 bututs, or some coos or peanuts that they can sell to the bitik... and then in return, the group prays for them and everyone asks each other to forgive them and to meet the new year in peace (ah-meen!). Then at night, my host brother the bitik owner (bitik- small store selling the basics) and the other twenty-somethings bring out the music and attaya and they have a little dance party... all night, for 2 nights in a row! Everyone really goes all out, esp. the young girls during Tobaski, getting elaborate outfits sown with bright colored sequinced-splashed frilly fabrics, and matching gaudy earrings and necklaces, Barbie-esque shiny shoes and hair decorations... the hair braiding gets extremely elaborate with different colored fake hair woven in (blonde, red) and the tighest little braids covering their heads in rows and swirls. Henna too, on the feet and one hand is a must. I "asobe"ed (dressed alike) with all the women in my compound, all of us wearing the same style outfit in different day-glo colors. Mine was Get your Groove on Green, and pictures are on their way! Aw, it was so much fun. And I have ear plugs so I got some sleep too.
So, now we are making the most of a warm Christmas here, with a baby banana tree for a Christmas tree and the beach instead of sledding... Merry Christmas from Africa!