Sunday, May 9, 2010

Gamou Gi

On April 24 the marabou in Kayemor, Serignee Cheikh Mouhamadou Lamine Djim Ndiaye, had his big, annual religious meeting: Gamou Gi. (“Gi” is a form of “the” in Wolof, and “the” always comes after the noun it is describing in Wolof.) He holds it to celebrate Muhammad (the main Islamic prophet) and his father. Serigne Djim killed 15 cows and gave a bunch of sheep and chickens to tons of people. People come to Kayemor from all other Senegal and West Africa for the Gamou.

Here is the invitation my friend Tomsir (who I tutor in English) gave me for the Gamou. I don’t know who wrote it in English, but I’m almost certain Tomsir didn’t because his English isn’t good enough to write an invitation like this. I’m also sure they had other invitations in French since French is the official language of Senegal and many other West African countries. I’m also not sure who they send the invitations to…they probably just send them to a few select people and everyone else learns about it through word of mouth.

Here is a picture of Serigne Djim in the room where people come to visit him and ask for advice and/or prayers.

Here is a picture of all the people waiting outside the room to see him. The police were there to make sure nothing got out of hand.

As I’ve said before, Tomsir is a Talibe of Serigne Djim so he invited me to spend the day at Serigne Djim’s house. I went to his house in mid-morning and helped the women cook lunch, which was delicious. Since there were so many people at Serigne Djim’s house, as well as in Kayemor in general, there were tons of women cooking – hence all the big pots for cooking vegetables, eggs, meat, and rice.

This meal, called ceebu yapp (rice and meat), is probably one of my favorites (except the meat part since everyone always get such a tiny amount, maybe a few bites of meat if you’re lucky, that I would rather have my family/any else buy fish since then I can normally get numerous bites of fish.

In the evening, Serigne Djim left his house and went to the center of Kayemor where there was a big tent set up and tons of chairs for a “conference.” I filmed this while I was waiting with my friend Yassa at Serigne Djim's compound for him to go to the conference. You can hear the men are chanting something in Arabic.

I’m not exactly sure what they talked about at the conference, but tons of people were there – including tons of policemen and Senegalese Red Cross workers.

The volunteers wore shirts that had a picture of Serigne Djim on the front (as you can kind of see from the guy on the right in the first picture below) and a picture of another famous marabou who lives in Kaolack, Baye Niasse (i.e. Father Niasse; “Baye” is “Father” in Wolof), on the back (as you can clearly see from the guy on the left in the two pictures below).

There was a big poster above the “stage” that was written in Arabic and said (more or less) “I [Serigne Djim] greet the people of Kayemor, by your first and last names. Welcome to the Gamou.”

This is a great (random) picture of my friend Muhammad (like the prophet) with a baby (no idea whose; not his) on the Gamou. This guy is probably the biggest jokester I know – he makes me start laughing right away when we’re just greeting each other because of his body language and goofy facial expressions. He often has the same affect on others, including the marabou.

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