My adventure last week was a trip to Fatu’s husband’s village for Mahamadou’s pembugol. or naming ceremony. For most kids this occurs a week after their birth—Madamadou’s was delayed for over two years while the family waited for his father, who is working abroad in Gabon, to send money for the festivities.
I went along partly for the adventure and partly because over the past year-plus I’ve declined invitations to all sorts of other out-of-village events and overnight excursions. I figured this trip, pitched to me as a one-nighter, would quiet my village integration conscience on that score.
Madame, Fatu, Mahamadou, Kanni, and I took a charette to the road on Tuesday evening, caught an over-stuffed alham to Missirah, and met up there with a relative for another charette ride out to the village. When we arrived the five of us were ushered into a hut where we were greeted by everyone in succession and then served not one but two dinners.
These, for anyone who was wondering, are the essential core—the rubbery innards, say—of Senegalese celebrations: sitting and eating.
Both of which I can do like a champ.
Witness: Nighttime—sat and socialized. Slept in someone’s vacated hut. Morning—served two breakfasts; sat. Watched as women shaved Mahamadou’s head while the men prayed outside, with dad on the cell phone from Gabon. Afternoon—ate three lunches. Sat. Evening—walked(!) to a neighboring village; sat. Returned; sat. Ate goat. Morning—sat; served two breakfasts; headed back home. All told, two nights and no fewer than eleven meals. And enough social sitting to last me for a while.
However, if that little adventure didn’t muzzle the slobbering mutt that is my village guilt, the two simultaneous weddings in my village this week sure as hell will. Thankfully, after that it’s off to England for three weeks of what will decidedly not involve sitting and sweating.