Today is the Prophet Muhammad's birthday which is called Mawlid throughout much of the Muslim world, but is called Gamou here in Senegal. Gamou is th big religious pilgrimage for Tidian followers. The religious center for Tidians is Tivaouane (my old training city), which is near Thies so the traffic has been insane and everyone is talking about making the pilgrimage. People inevitably ask me if I'm going to participate. I have myriad feelings about participating. Large crowds of very excited people are a little scary and I would be there mainly to observe and not to participate therefore, it's better that I stay at home.
People have been making their way to Tivaouane for several days, but today is the Prophet's birthday so it's the craziest day. Thies is, for some unknown reason, overrun with motorcycles. It's like Hells Angels descended on Thies. Odd. Most of my family identify with the Tidian teachings of Islam so have been talking about the holiday, but in their usual non-committal terms. They kidded with me about making the trip then told me that I was babysitting and then proclaimed that they were too tired to go at all. I left this morning and spent the day out and about so that I wouldn't be roped into going if they did decide to make the trip, which they actually did! I was surprised since Khady proclaimed this morning that she needed more beauty rest and would not be going.
I came home tonight around 10pm to a bolted front gate. Not cool. I was worried right away, but after pounding on the door for several minutes my mom came out and let me in. She was the only person at my house. Every other person including Ahmed and baby Abdou made the trek to Tivaouane and my dad apparently went to Dakar. My mom was really happy because she hates both big groups of people (aka the pilgrimage) and being alone. She was doubly happy when I told her that I had already showered at Peace Corps (we haven't had water in about a week and since everyone is gone no one pulled water, my mom had to pay another women to pull her bathing water). She asked me to sit in the living room while she bathed and then told me to go into my room so she could lock the door to the main house. Thanks mom. I feel the love.
Before telling me that she was going to bed and I was going to the bungalow, my mom did tell me that everyone was coming home tonight around 3am because they didn't want to stay in the "village." Only my delightfully elitist family would call Tivaouane a village. It's a city of 50,000 people and has drastically better utilities than Thies. Regardless, I will probably be woken up by two crying children, to angry mothers, and a heard of other family members at the wee hours of the morning upon their return. It's OK since all of the mosques are going at it 24/7 at maximum volume anyway.
If you're interested in learning more about Mawlid, Gamou, the Prophet Muhammad's birthday check out this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mawlid
If you're interested in coming to Senegal, but need Jon Stewart's enthusiastic endorsement check out this link: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-january-31-2011/let-s-go-exile----hosni-mubarak?xrs=share_fb
A Junior Achievement update is coming tomorrow!
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