In The Gambia, everyone gets new clothes and shoes to wear to the prayer grounds and out to greet neighbors. The kids get so dressed up they are practically unrecognizable in their fancy clothes and gaudy make up. And to be honest, although it’s not the intent, some do actually look scary. Instead of parading around for candy, though, they ask for “salibo,” any small amount of money neighbors are willing to give.
Tobaski, better known across the world as Eid al-Adha in Arabic which means “Festival of the Sacrifice,” commemorates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his only son at God’s command. However, God intervened and provided him a lamb to kill instead according to scripture. The holiday is in the final month of the Islamic lunar calendar and lasts for three days while Muslims symbolically sacrifice sheep and share with family and friends.
My teenage sisters wanted to say goodbye to me with swagger and style, to give me something I would never forget. So, they arranged a “meet and greet” with the village dance crew, “The American Boyz,” who performed a private show for me at our family’s compound.
naked child and her goat. Picture taken during summer holidays.
School starts at half past 8, but on the first day, students wandered in through the gates closer to 9. Not a single child brought paper or a pen. But at least they showed up, which is more than half the teachers can say. Fifteen teachers failed to report, and one came with her baby tied to her back.
As we dressed for the cultural show, my mother draped strings of beads around my neck and across my chest in a traditional Jola fashion. She stood back, looked at me and sucked her teeth. “Ahaaaaa,” she said. “Nice, nice! My toma will be first.”