The Birth of Prophet Muhammad
Before I go back to telling you about all the amazing things I do in Senegal, I must apologise. I am kicking myself as I didn't want to have to be one of those people who have to apologise for not blogging in such a long time. I love it, but there is just so little time during the day. I promise it will never happen again though, I hope. A friend of mine helped me get over my shame by saying 'it's better to be too busy to write because your doing something worth writing about than have too much time to write with nothing worth reading about'. I have so much to tell you, but I won't start from where I left off, I will keep going forward with the odd flashback. I hope you've missed me.
So two nights ago, we celebrated Gamou. Gamou, the birth of Prophet Muhammad, is one of the biggest Senegalese religious festivals, where everyone comes together. They stay up until 5am, or later, celebrating, praying and eating together.
The day started with the men of the house slaughtering a sheep, while the girls chopped up all the vegetables. As cooking does in Africa, it took the whole morning and about ten females to make it. We ate the sheep in our Ceebu Yap (rice and meat), for lunch, and in our salad for dinner.
The late afternoon consisted of visiting the large mosque in Senegal. The entire area was flooded with people going to meet their friends, pray or, like us, to ogle over the beautiful lights, the numerous stalls and decorated mosque. After drinking large amounts of Nescafe that you can find people selling all around Senegal, we preceded to get on one of the numerous horses and carts that filled the dusty Senegalese roads around the mosque.
Arriving back at the house, we were greeted with our dinner. I love salad so this was a nice surprise as we don't have it often. Senegalese salad is often just lettuce, onions and loads of meat, but today we had it all. On our plate, I say our because we all eat from one plate, there was lettuce, cucumbers, peppers, onions, and of course sheep. I don't think they have ever seen someone so happy to see vegetables before.
After dinner, we were almost immediately whisked off to the real celebration. After a fifteen minute walk, we arrived at a massive gazebo where a well dressed young man chanted the famous Senegalese Muslim refrain 'La ilaha illa Allah', which translates to 'There is no God, but God'. This is where we will spend the whole night, but first, we had to say hi to all the people who live on the street. We started with our student, Khady, who's family were hosting the party. Khady, dressed in a beautiful Senegalese boubou and long black heels, greeting us with a massive hug and a kiss on each cheek. We sat with her and chatted with her aunty, who was Gambian so spoke English, before moving on to all the other houses filled with people we knew and people we didn't.
The rest of the night was sitting, listening to chants, having naps, eating the Senegalese equivalent of a doughnut, drinking strong coffee, chatting with friends and celebrating something that was very important to the people around us. That night, I fell asleep at 7am. Though, it is not the latest I have gone to bed in Senegal, but I'll get on to that one another day.