Friday, October 26, 2012

TABASKI in Dakar, Senegal

As an Abrahamic faith tradition, Islam celebrates a day in October just about the end of Hajji (pilgrimage to Mecca) to commemorate Abraham's sacrifice when God provided a ram instead of his son. In Dakar this was celebrated on Friday October 26, 2012 and it was a big public holiday. Yesterday (Thursday October 25) the was quite deserted as the usual traffic jam we notice at 5:00PM were absent. There were billboards advertizing spices for Tabaski with a picture of a ram in them and wondered what it was all about until someone explained it to me. Well I was lucky to have a friend I met here in Dakar in 2008 who now works with CODESRIA and invited me to his house where I was able to see the entire ceremony and enjoy grilled meat with him and his family. You can see me happily getting ready to start feasting on grilled mutton on the picture on top left and the ram from which the meat came here on the top right. I had read about this celebration when I was an anthropology graduate student in Illinois in the early 1990s but the area of focus was Morocco. We had so much to eat that even as I write this at 8:15PM I am still so full. We started off with the first round of meat which was grilled liver and ribs then after having our fill we waited a few minutes and had Senegalese tea which has tea, sugar, and mint (my friend made it a little light knowing I was not a pro at it). It is supposed to assist in digesting the food which is a good thing because three hours later there was set another big tray of meat with french fries, baguette, sauted onions with olives, lettuce, soft corn and some cucumber and fresh tomatoes. After this second round we had another round of tea then some fruits (apples, bananas, and oranges) as we watched National Geographic featuring all kinds of snakes with narration in French. Watching teh whole process of Tabaski from slaughtering the sheep to skinning it and preparing it and then having it was a real treat for me and I am grateful for such rare opportunities.

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