We have a brand new baby boy in our compound. His name is Yaya and it was / will be interesting to be around with him. Up until the day she delivered, Sibou cooked two meals a day, washed clothes and children, swept the compound and did all her regular duties in the 100 degree heat. The day Yaya arrived; she knocked on our door at around and said she was sick and going to the doctor on the village vehicle. We said okay and went back to sleep, too tired to question how she was sick.
That night I was suspicious that ‘I’m sick’ really meant that the baby was coming so I called her phone to see how she was doing. (Sibou is the only one in the family with a mobile – she got it from her previous marriage) Our host dad’s sister answered the phone and told me in mandinka that Sibou had delivered a baby boy and both were doing great! I told a neighbor (thinking she would already know) and several women came in the compound and asked if it was true that Sibou delivered. It was great because our compound was really excited and everyone, including the kids, were really happy. It also made me a tad nervous that maybe my ‘advanced’ mandinka skills had failed me and I had misheard considering no one else in the village seemed to know the news. I asked a neighbor, Howa, why Sibou didn’t tell us that she was having the baby, and that I would have traveled to the hospital with her; Howa told me that “we, the black society, consider it bad luck to tell people you are delivering. Because if something happens during delivery, people will say it was because you told so and so or because so and so went with you to the hospital”. The next day Sibou and Yaya arrived on the village car! Everyone was really happy and still now people will ask us ‘Where is the baby?’ – a common greeting here.
The following week, mandinka tradition is to stay inside the house for a week until the naming ceremony. Neighbors all came over to see the baby and women brought gifts to Sibou. Normal gifts are soap, fabric, soap, sugar or money. Sibou collected about 30 new pieces of fabric, and I’m sure lots of other goodies too. She stayed inside her hot room all week and didn’t do anything but chat, sleep, and feed Yaya. We were glad she could take a break but felt sorry she was in her hot room all week. Being outside here is much nicer than being inside. These mud homes are like ovens at times.
During the week I would go in and hang out with her and whomever was visiting. I introduced the card game Uno to her and some others and it was a hit. I also brought her magazines and cooked the family a spaghetti dinner one night. They love my spaghetti. J I also had some funny conversations with Sibou. She was telling me about a women and I couldn’t place the name so I asked her what she looked like. She looks at me with dead seriousness and says ‘she’s black’. I pause, waiting for some more description, and there is none. We both laugh and I say but everybody’s black. She was laughing and said ‘not me’, I said okay, not you. I still don’t know who she was talking about.
Sibou and Yaya (I tried to make this picture arty - did it work?)