Sunday, November 21, 2010


This last week was the holiday of Tabaski here in Niger. Our family was super busy and I didn’t take many pictures, but I did want to leave a little post on it! Many thanks to my friends Hope, Beth and Richelle for some of their pictures and words on the event that I borrowed below!


Tabaski (here in West Africa), or Eid al-Adha (Arabic: عيد الأضحى‎ ‘Īdu l-’Aḍḥā) or “Festival of Sacrifice” or “Greater Eid” is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide to commemorate the willingness of Abraham (Ibrahim) to sacrifice his son Ishmael (Isma’il) as an act of obedience to God, before God intervened to provide him with a ram to sacrifice instead. Yes that’s right- that said Ishmael. A little bit different than the story we know right?

click here to read the Biblical account of this story

On Wednesday thousands and thousands of sheep were slaughtered. The day before you could see people selling firewood and sharp pointy sticks everyone in the streets. IMG_4909-1024x768

The streets were then lined with rams on giant skewers cooked over an open fire in front of every home. Some houses had 6 or more rams. Traditionally, a man will purchase and slaughter at least one for each of his wives and their children.

The meat is divided into three parts to be distributed to others. The family retains one third of the share, another third is given to relatives, friends and neighbours, and the other third is given to the poor & needy. taken from this wikipedia article

The day after Tabaski is one of seeking forgiveness. This is the day that people visit, call or send texts to ask for forgiveness from people for their sins of the past year.


Imagine this site on almost every street corner in an entire city. The haze of smoke and smell of roasting goat permeating every breath. Not good for people with sinus or breathing problems! As my friend Beth reminded me (as well as my African friends who felt these affects this weekend!) a very interesting aspect of Tabaski is that it actually poses a health problem for children. Schools have very high absentee rates the days after the holiday. Can you guess why? What would happen to you if you almost never got meat and then in one day you ate a year's supply? Yes, massive diarrhea. In a country where it is hot and dry this is not a laughing matter. Diarrhea is a leading killer of children in Africa, and particularly here in Niger.

Bennett was quite funny on this holiday. We had to drive somewhere to visit friends in the midst of all the goat on posts cooking like in the picture above. Whenever he saw a sheep walking around that was still alive he would cheer in joy and clap for the sheep that made it, then yell at them to run and hide since people wanted to kill them and eat them! This happened everytime he saw a sheep for the next three days. Also, in the wonderful way of a five year old, he condensed down the whole event to one thought. He said “Mom, it is so sad that these people think they have to kill all these poor sheep just to make God happy. Don’t they know that is stupid and all they have to do is love and accept Jesus?” Oh be still my heart—out of the mouths of babes!

What I did take pictures of – the people! Here are some shots from all the visiting we did. A create time to talk about many wonderful topics.

Buying juice for the kids in a big family we visited


Bennett and his buddy El Hadid after they spent a good half hour kung-fu fighting each other and running all over the yard in fun.


Miriama and Aminata trying to get a “nice calm” pose with our crazy kids!





Paul and Akadeka happened to be wearing a shirt made out of the same African fabric, so they both turbaned up for a picture of them as “twins”


Enjoying all the kids


Sakki’s kitchen (with our bright yellow tippi-tap hand washing station in the background!)


Enjoying the moon through the lines of all the power lines that run right by their cement hut. Ironically, they are without electricity.


A last shot in the dark. Much of the evening when it was dusk we chatted and even ate by the light of the moon. My camera has a night vision function so I took this shot. You can see the kids playing an African version of duck duck goose in the dark, and in the far right Akadeka doing his prayers.


A very busy week, but a wonderful time with people sharing their holidays with them. Great conversations, lots of food and wonderful companionship!


Chen family said...

Chantelle, I LOVE reading your, love what Bennett said, but just to clarify, he is five, no? I thought he was closer in age with Jaelyn...

Judy said...

Love it, as usual!