Sunday, October 14, 2007

Ramadan feast and farewell to Burkina Faso


Well, the blessed month of Ramadan has ended and people are partying here in Burkina Faso. The end of Ramadan also coincides with the 20th anniversary of "Independance Day" when President Blaise Compaore seized power in a coup d'etat. I will defer commentary on the latter event until another time (perhaps when I am safely back in the United States).

Monument commemorating the revolution

On the morning of the day that ended Ramadan, we arrived at La Maison Diop shortly after the lamb had been slaughtered.

Some gotta win, some gotta lose

The butchers hung the lamb and went to work on the carcass, while the men of the household sat on the patio and talked and the women went to work in the kitchen. (Yes, I know...equitable division of labor, and all that...)

Hanging the lamb for skinning
The Brothers Diop
Dicing onions
Throughout the day, family, friends, and neighbors dropped by to pay their respects, and sit for a while on the patio. There was a certain ritual involved with the guests, wherein they would enter the courtyard, then approach each person on the patio, starting with Papa Diop, and working their way around. The greeting consisted of a handshake and a bent knee and sometimes the mock kisses on alternate cheeks, or the bowing of the head in reverence. Everyone was extremely polite.

Hangin' with the peeps

The butchering and cooking continued throughout the morning. When the lamb carcass had been prepared, the women washed the meat and set about the final preparations for the feast.

Butchering, African style

Mom takes a turn at grinding pepper
Washing the meat
When everything was prepared, the food was distributed in big platters which were shared by 3 to 4 people each. Each plate was placed on a carpet around which we sat cross-legged while we ate. The meal consisted of very spicy, peppered lamb, french-fried potatoes, bread, rice cakes, vermicelli with onion sauce, and mint water. I thought the lamb was delicious, but others complained that it was too tough.

Dinner is served

After the meal, everyone relaxed for a while, and then the Diop men set out to make their rounds to the houses of friends and relatives, to pay their respects.

Well, I begin my journey back to the United States on the day after tomorrow, so this will be my last blog from Africa. (Maty will be staying another 3 weeks). I hope you've enjoyed reading about my journey, and I look forward to seeing many of you when I get home.

Until then...
Night falls on Burkina Faso


Ridwan said...

Eid Mubarak Dade! It will be good to read your thoughts on Compaore who has been in power since 1987.

The assassination of Thomas Sankara was a tragedy of great proportions.

Sean Jacobs of Leo Africanus has an interesting and informative post on Sankara.

Made me sad to think that such a wonderful and humble leader died at the hands of a power monger like Compaore.

As Jacobs points out, a government audit of President Sankara's possessions after he died included the following:

" ... he received a salary of $450 a month, and that his 'most valuable possessions' were a '... car, four bikes, three guitars, a fridge and broken freezer.'

Sankara also '... refused to use air conditioning in his [presidential] office on the grounds that such luxury was not available to anyone but a handful of Burkinabes.'

See the post here:


Shus li che dut nah (Spring Thunder) said...

Hey, Dade!

I've been enjoying these photos and first-person accounts of this land of your wife and her family. It is a new world, or an extension of the one you lived in.

Bon voyage!


Anonymous said...


Have a safe trip home. We missed you and Maty at Oktoberfest, but there is always next time. It will be very interesting to hear more about Burkia Faso in greater detail.

Patrick and Lori

sponge888 said...

Have really enjoyed your travel updates. I look forward to hearing more when you return. Safe journey to you!


Anonymous said...

Thank you for keeping the blog on your trip! It was so enjoyable, fascinating actually. I learned a great deal. I hope Maty enjoys the rest of her trip! Jen (Sarah's sister)