Sunday, 20 October 2013

Tabaski, 5 interviews & African fabric shopping!

Although it is still around 32 degrees every day, this week I really had a ‘Christmas-feeling’ on Wednesday, when we celebrated Tabaski. In most Muslim countries it is called Eid a-Adha, but in West Africa it is called Tabaski and it commemorates Abraham's faith and devotion to God. It is one of the most important Muslim holidays and also called the "Feast of Sacrifice". During Tabaski, a sheep (or goat) is slaughtered as a symbolic gesture. However, I found out that this holiday is not only about religion. It is also a time to meet the family, to eat, to enjoy yourself and to dress up. A lot of kids (all dressed up) walk on the streets and knock on doors asking for small donations. So cute!

I was invited to celebrate this special day with the family of Bocar (the husband of Bijou). In the morning, the men visit the mosque at 9am and then they cleaned the four sheep. Afterwards, the four sheep were slaughtered/sacrificed by the men at the rooftop of the house. It was a bit crazy to realize that at that hour, between three and four million sheep were sacrificed, in Senegal alone. In the following hours, the women were cutting, cleaning and preparing the meat. It felt so special to be part of this. I sat in the kitchen, on a small wooden stool, to view all what was happening there. After a few hours, dinner was ready and we enjoyed the nice food with all of us.

One of the sacrificed sheep
The aunt of Bocar preparing the meet
Hmm… fried fries!
The kitchen in the house of Bocar's family

The meet on the bbq!
And dinner is ready!
Because of Tabaski, I did not expect to be able to conduct many interviews, since all shops, as well as Ministries and most organizations were closed on Wednesday and Thursday. However, I managed to make an appointment with a lady who worked for a German NGO. She knew so much about the topic and was very enthusiastic about my research. What an inspiring woman! I had so much energy when I left her office!

After the interview, I went to the Netherlands Embassy to work from there in the afternoon. It is so nice to have an office & airco! ;-)

The Netherlands Embassy

On Friday afternoon I had an interesting interview with UNICEF. I am sometimes surprised how open the interviewees are. When people read in my letter of consent that everything will be anonymous, they are very honest and tell literally everything.  I am extremely happy with that!

The office of UNICEF
Yesterday was one of the nicest days up to now. In the morning, I transcribed an interview. In the afternoon, I took a taxi to the house of Marieke, a Dutch girl I met last week. We went shopping with two of her friends (one girl from the UK and the other one from the US) in Dakar. There are no shops like ZARA or H&M here. People usually buy fabrics and then they go to the tailor who makes clothes for them. We first went to the fabulous Marché des HLM, the best place to buy African fabrics! We had so much fun! Afterwards, we took a taxi downtown and we visited a huge store with three floors of more ‘Western-style’ fabrics. It was so nice, we spend there more than an hour and I bought three different prints. We’ll go to the tailor next week and I hope he can make some nice dresses for me! ;-)

Transcribing my interview.

The market!
The fabrics are so colorful!
The market.
The fabrics I bought!
When we finished shopping, we went for a drink to the French Institute and afterwards we met the four Dutch girls who are here for an internship for their HBO study. The Dutch community in Senegal is very small, so this was really an exception! All of a sudden there were 6 Dutch girls in Dakar together!

Six Dutch girls! 
We went out for dinner with the six of us in a restaurant & bar called Charly's. It was such a nice place and something so 'European/luxurious' that I hadn’t seen before in Dakar. I am sure I will come here more often the upcoming months! We ordered a hamburger and a cocktail and we had a good time!

I enjoy my work and my time in Dakar. Although the ‘African rhythm’ is sometimes quite frustrating (I have to wait a lot), I know it is part of the job. I have done 5 interviews the past week and I am very satisfied with the results so far. Next week there is a big conference in Rome about FGM/C (where the paper I wrote for the UNFPA in New York will be presented), but that means that a lot of people that I would like to interview are not in the country. Therefore, I am planning to read more reports and studies the upcoming week, perhaps start writing my chapter and to translate my questionnaires in French. 

And… Erik’s first visit is coming closer and closer! In less than two weeks he will be here and I can’t wait to show him ‘my Senegalese life’! We will stay in Dakar a few days, but we will probably also travel outside Dakar to visit the beautiful Sine Saloum Delta! I am looking forward to this ‘break’ and to see more of Senegal!!! But first: more work needs to be done and I am very busy planning the next interviews! ;-)

I keep you updated!

Warm regards,


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