Entertainment in the African Bush is different from entertainment in Austin. The men play football, watch football on the one TV in town, go to ceremonies, go to wrestling matches, and chat over brewing attaya. The women have little to no time for entertainment unless there is a ceremony to attend. The only entertainment I’ve seen them engage in has been hair braiding, chatting, cracking peanuts, and brewing attaya. They socialize mostly over work – laundry, pounding coos, collecting palm fruit, going to the bush for firewood, making brooms out of grasses, etc. The women here are working always or as Sibou says ‘Every day, I sweep, Every Day, I cook, Every Day, I clean, Every Day’. While I enjoy helping with some of these activities, I can’t engage in them fully with the women because they expect me to help them all with everything and that takes a big toll on me physically and mentally. It is also doesn’t really help them because mostly they just laugh at how poorly I do things and re-do it. I still do try to help with some things. Luckily, since I’m a toubob woman, it’s okay for me to do some of the men stuff too.
A couple weeks back, we had an interhouse competition at the primary school in our village. Because our village is small, we only have one school that goes from grades pre-k to 6. The older kids were allowed to participate in interhouse which is the Gambian version of our American Field Days. It was fun to watch and be a part of. Ben took some pictures and I helped write the scores down and blew the race whistle for some events. The whole village had a great time. The events included 800 m, 400 m, 100 m, and 200 m dashes and also 4 x 100 relay and 4 x 400 m relay. There was long jump, high jump, and ‘milk tin’ race. The track was made on the sand football field and the lines were created with ash. The teachers did not stagger any starts so the inside lanes did particularly well during the 200 m and 400 m dashes. Some of the kids had jellys on, some had socks, but all had a great time. When one member of the team finished the kids rushed to the center of the field to meet the runner and beat drums and clapped and yelled.
The other big event we’ve had in village recently was an official village football game (with actual uniforms) against a neighboring village followed by a ‘disco’ that lasts all night. Ben got to play post again and did not get scored on. The other village was scared when they saw the toubob goalie! ha. The women all got dressed up and came and watched the game, and the dj’s set up the sound system during the game so there was music and all the little children were dancing. It was fun to watch.
After the game everyone went home to eat dinner and clean up for the disco. We arrived at the disco at 10, and although we went to a disco during training village, this time was a lot different. They set up a closed off area by the school to blast the music and most young people in the village attend. Our village is a Muslim village so there was no drinking at all. Just straight African dancing all night, and attaya of course. The men and women dance separately, and the men try to dance like justin timberlake and have a great time doing it. It was so fun to watch, and so completely different from any ‘disco’ in the states!
6th grade girls race - notice the track :)
One of these things is not like the other.