Yesterday marked the end of Ramadan. Korite. The whole day a fete where you start the morning off going to the mosque, then eating niiri (balls of millet powder boiled in water) with kossam (yogurt) poured on top. Everyone looks so beautiful in their new clothes. Then people go from house to house greeting families and asking them Aɗa yarlo, aɗa yafo? (Do you forgive me? Do you excuse me?) I see it as a lovely way to set the new year right by asking everyone to forgive you your trespasses of the year before. Paul and I wore our new Senegalese clothes and spent the day eating lunch at Paul’s counterpart’s home (Madame Ly). We did not intend to, but once we visited we were not allowed to leave. Most families kill a goat or sheep or chicken to celebrate. The Bassoum family killed a little male goat that morning, letting him bleed out into the soil of the courtyard. We bought the family three kilos each of onions and potatoes. All the children run from house to house, from person to person asking for change. Those who have more give to those who have less.
I realize that I have not yet explained a lot about our Ramadan experience. No mbaɗ-ɗaa e Kork? (How goes it with Ramadan?) Ramadan is a month between two new moons where Muslims abstain from eating and drinking when the sun is up (typically between 5:30 to 19:30). Muslims do this as a way to reflect on God and to understand how life is for those without food and drink. Before the sun rises, families get up to eat bread and drink tea or coffee.
And my favorite part of Ramadan is the breaking of fast (taƴde). The hour before the sun sets, the family is washing cups, chilling kossam, heating kinkilebah (a type of tea here), and starting dinner. Lamine washes the dates. Hawh makes the tuna or macaroni and I help her buy bread at the neighborhood boutique. Hoore is making dinner. Neene is diluting the kossam with water and ice, then mixing the tea with lots of milk and sugar. Some nights Paul and I make bissap juice, which the Bassoum family likes with some added vanilla extract and a packet of jolly jus (coca-cola flavoured). The sound of prayers through the mosque speakers announces the setting of the sun. Bismillah, Lamine says, quickly popping a single date into his mouth. Then comes a cup of kossam, delicious and made from real cow’s milk (delicious but potentially tuberculosis-infected). The kossam is followed up with a cup of warm milky sweet tea and a sandwich usually of mayo and beans/tuna or macaroni. While we eat, we chat and watch the Senegalese channel on TV, now featuring nature clips mixed in with swirling colors and stars to the sounds of Arabic prayers. Neene, Hawh, and Hoore go to the neighborhood mosque for the late evening prayer futuro, and then we eat dinner (or lunch really) as we eat the foods that we normally would eat at lunch.