We got to experience a naming ceremony from a broader spectrum this time around. The morning of, visitors arrived from Sibou’s home village and Lamin’s work. This was considered a small ceremony because Lamin couldn’t afford a goat and there weren’t that many outsiders. A big one supposedly everyone gets decked out with asoebes and dances all night.
Lamin showed Ben the food he had for the ceremony the morning of, which consisted of rice, oil, and onions. He told Ben it was a tradition to show the men the food before the ceremony. I helped the women pound coos for the breakfast. They love to laugh at my inability to do the things they do so well.
Lamin’s sisters are in charge of cooking th meals for the ceremony. Sibou’s siblings came and gave her five outfits to wear for the day. Her sister put make up on her and brought a wig for her to wear. Apparently the latest fashion trend is to wear fake hair – for the evening portion of the ceremony, a few more women brought out the wigs. Nice.
At around , some old women brought the baby to the Griot. The Griot is the person who performs ceremonies such as these. They pray and then the griot announces the name and kola nuts are passed around to elders. Then they walked the baby back to our compound and gave him back to Sibou. Then Sibou made her entrance outside for the first time in a week. She seemed really happy and when I asked why she was wearing a wig not a Tico (the standard African head tie) she said because you don’t always have to and today, she was girl. It seems strange to me that a week after you give birth you want to be around a hundred people and get dressed up, but I am not a mother so I don’t know. The remainder of the day the women spent chatting and cooking in our compound wihle the men talked with Lamin over in another compound, and brewed attaya.
Lunch was served and then women left to change for the ‘contribution’ portion of the ceremony. This is when the women brew sweet condensed milk and everyone gives 50 D to the mother. The day ended about and people were still over chatting at 10 when we went to sleep.
One neat thing was Lamin’s work people, the people he stays with when he goes fishing on the river, brought him lots of big catfish (that one man stayed up all night to catch), and vegetables for the lunch. Lamin was really proud and happy about it and showed everyone and had us take pictures of the ingredients. We’re pretty sure that our compound is one of the poorest in the village so we knew there probably wouldn’t be any meat at the ceremony. According to mandinkas, no meat and no chagree (a yogurt, coos mixture) means the ceremony is ‘not sweet’. Well, there was no meat and very little charge but still guests from other villages came – and we were there with cameras. Everyone seemed to have a good time.
Two people told us that it seemed like we were really enjoying ourselves, and in truth we were. And at the end of the day, Lamin said he thanked God we were here and that we enjoyed the naming ceremony.
Pounding coos with the lades
walking the baby to the next compound
Isatou and the biggest cooking pot ever.
Sibou getting dolled up
Me, sibou and the kids