Reub's journey

09 September 2009

The party

The little town of Faloa, in central Niger, was excited about the party we had said we would host. A group of women, mostly Narba's family, cooked rice and sauce in the afternoon. We had bought a lot of rice,which was a treat in mid-August, the hunger season. Rice was expensive compared to the staple grain of millet, so it was special.

The women cooked it in big pots on wood fires, in their compound. Then they delivered it to Jessica's little concession, where dozens and dozens of women came by to share it. The candy that I had brought from the US was also shared.

The women wanted a dance, and they wanted to hire drummers. So they gathered at Jessica's concession in the afternoon and shoved coins at her to help defray the cost. The excitement was palpable!

Four of the eight drummers; one group came from a neighboring village.

The dancing occurred in the late afternoon; it was all women except for the musicians themselves. The crowd was probably 200 or so women and young girls.

Everybody danced, even the visiting Peace Corps volunteers who had come to meet us and be guests at our party.

It lasted for at least an hour, and was so amazing.

It was a mass of color, sound, and movement.

Shaibu, a neighbor (and Narba's son), butchered the sheep and cooked it over an open fire for hours. Then it was meticulously cut into many pieces, and secretly delivered to over 50 households, all after dark. Narba helped make the decisions of who got some, and who did not. It was stressful. How do you have "parties" in this land of so little? How do you share what you have when there is not enough to go around?

Well, I can say this: nothing went to waste. When it was over, there wasn't so much as a dry bone left. And all of us were really quite tired. But days later, they were still talking about it.


  1. Oh My! What a beautiful, festive occasion! You Americans sure know how to throw a party!! I love the pictures - the colors, the smiles, even the goat. I can almost hear the drumming and ululating and smell the smells! What a gift you gave that whole village! Did you also pay for the goat? And why weren't any of the men at your party? I LOVE this!!!

  2. Oh my gosh. I am in tears, and I don't know if it's the day I've had or how darn happy everyone looks, dancing in what MUST have been the heat of the day!!! what an amazing memory.

  3. Oh boy, was it ever hot. And I am such an awful dancer, although nobody minded. We did pay for the sheep (I know it looks more like a goat, and I kept calling it a goat, but it was in fact a sheep) The whole party probably cost about $125-$150 including the cost of the trip to Badigishiri,(transportation of the sheep and the folks who went with us to help buy all this cannot buy any of it in Foloa)
    The young men had their own party in the street 2 nights before our party. They had a blast, but it didn't involve food. Many of them would have been given a bit of meat in the secret meat-delivery that went on at night. And of few of them, dying of curiosity, watched the dance party from a distance. Betcha they were jealous, cuz we had FUN.

  4. Some more details for ya'll:
    -The sheep meat was divided among over 50 households. A bite or a chunk went to people that I picked or that Narba deemed necessary to recognize.
    -Shaibou is Narba's youngest son, and his wife is Rasida, whom I've written about in other letters.
    - The sheep cost 45,000 CFA which is about $100.

  5. OK, I made the correction about the number of households: over 50. Can you believe it?


Talk to me.