Last Saturday, April 5th, the Senegalese Association of Oregon and Southwest Washington held its annual commemorative celebration of Senegal's Independence Day.
In addition to its primary function (recognizing Senegal's independence from France in 1960), the event is an outreach to the Portland community. Most of the Association's members are Senegalese immigrants (many with American kids and spouses) and this event provides a vehicle for introducing Senegalese culture (food, clothing, music, dance) to the people of the Pacific Northwest.
|Monsieur Maty setting the mood with some djembe|
|Héctor Miramontes, representing the City of Portland, and Emcee Masene|
|Senegalese ladies in their traditional finery|
I love this festival for many reasons. The traditional costumes of the Senegalese women dazzle with color, the music is infectious and happy, and the food is delectable. In general, I find the festival to be a perfect encapsulation of the Senegalese worldview. That is to say positive, appreciative.
|Souke, Maty, and Awa: three of the heroic Senegalese chefs|
At my home on Friday, the night before the party, Maty and her two friends Awa and Souke, started cooking at 5pm. I left the house to give them room and returned about midnight. They were still cooking.
I went to bed at 1am. They were still cooking.
I was fast asleep when Maty finally woke me. "Can you give Souke a ride home?" she asked.
My mind was a fog. "What time is it?" I asked.
"Six-thirty," she said.
I opened my eyes. "Are you serious?"
They'd been cooking all night. Thirteen and a half hours. Their heroic effort was replicated in the homes of the other Senegalese ladies throughout the Metro area.
|Eat, drink, laugh, dance!|