The Gammu Gamut
Islamic brotherhoods in Senegal have an annual celebration of the birth of Mohammed, called here a Gammu. The date is pretty flexible, which means that if you want, you can attend multiple Gammus in multiple places. We in the field call this ‘hitting the Gammu Circuit’.
I hit it hard.
This year I started off with an afternoon trip to Nguith. Tegan, Sarah and I had lunch their and toured around the village visiting some friends and relatives. We drank soda or juice at each house that we visited, which led to some mildly upset stomachs, but overall was pretty fun and low key.
Next up was Gammu Xol Xol! Margaret and I got matching outfits with the ladies of our neighborhood. We didn’t actually wear them at the same time as the rest of the women because, by the time everyone went out to listen to the imam talk, it was after midnight, freezing cold, and I was deeply asleep. C’est la vie.
Sisters at Gammu Xol Xol
Third on the list was Gammu Mbeulekhe, one of the most attended religious events in the Djolof region. My good friend Fae lives out there, so Jenn, Tegan, Sarah and I went for moral support and, of course, chicken dinner. Fae and Jenn went all out and bought beautiful gammu hats. We stayed up until almost 2 am and were still among the only people in the giant, Christmas light filled tent. I believe the chanting started around 3, but clearly we did not make it.
Last, but certainly not least, Gammu Tivaouane! Margaret and I rode in a small bus rented out by the people of Xol Xol to the annual celebration in Tivaouane, center of the Tidiane Islamic brotherhood of Senegal. We spent a few days there, with a brief detour to Thies for Pizza and a night of quiet peaceful sleep at Abby’s apartment, and by the end we were completely ready to be home and away from loudspeakers blaring Arabic chanting at us 24/7 and overwhelming crowds of people and cars everywhere we went. The food was delicious though!
The people of Xol Xol were hungry after a long day of travel.
Baay Birame and I
The house we stayed in in Tivaouane
He made the ride on the roof all the way from Xol Xol to Tivaouane… Only to become lunch.
Backtracking a little bit…. I celebrated Christmas in Linguere where Tegan killed her first chicken, we played urban dictionary balderdash and ate an obscene amount of cookies. After our delightful Toubab Christmas came to an end I took the show on the road. My friend Petit’s family lives down the street so I took them lots of decorations (quickly appropriated as jewelry) and some hot chocolate mix. They didn’t really seem to get the point, and Baby Ali was not feeling the Santa hat… but it was a fun afternoon nonetheless.
In other news, having a site-mate again is great and when we’re not too worn out from P-90X farm edition and Zumba videos, we’ve been doing some small-scale gardening in 3 schools here in Linguere. I’ve been really impressed with the motivation of the teachers we’ve been working with. They make sure all the students (boys and girls) get involved in our lessons, and show up to meetings early with shovels and piles of manure ready to learn.
“Normal is not something to aspire to, its something to get way from.” -Jodie Foster