Saturday, 13 November 2010
The fate of the sheep
Bobo is filling up with sheep. By the roadside, on patches of open ground, small and larger flocks of sheep are appearing, each one with a minder or two. Because next week is Tabaski, the ‘fête du mouton’, the biggest festival in the Muslim calendar, when the non-sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham is celebrated. And for the fête, everyone has to have their mouton, so of course prices are on the up – dramatically so.
Flocks of sheep cross the roads, even the busy dual carriageway, and traffic slows down. Beside the road, individual negotiations take place, and sometimes a sheep or two is carried off on a moto, all in high spirits.
Tabaski is a national holiday – ‘jour ferié’. So, the day before, people work a ‘journée continue’ with no lunch break, and finish at 2pm. Tabaski is printed in red on various calendars, some showing it as the 16th and some as the 17th. Uncertainty reigned until there was an announcement on the radio last Thursday (less than a week to go) confirming the fête for Tuesday 16th.
All this causes some problems for those trying to programme events and activities – which is our major preoccupation at work at the moment, as due to various delays, we have to get some 50+ events in before the end of December. One of our major funders insisted that we plan their launch event in the week15-20 November – and that no events take place before the launch. We had envisaged an earlier launch date – originally early November, and then we had planned for the 12th – and so several events, carefully organised to coincide with various market days, have had to be re-planned. And not a good week to choose really, as the 16th and 17th, possible holidays, were ruled out, and the days before or after a major holiday are not good either – so to cut a very long story short we will now be launching on the Saturday. I have lost count of how many different versions of the programme there have been!
Even government is not immune – there are elections imminent, and a local Minister had called a big rally for the 16th (presumably he thought the fête would be the 17th) which has also had to be rearranged – stadium booking, buses to carry supporters, and presumably some food to entice them along…
As well as being good news for sheep traders, the holiday is big business for fabric sellers and tailors, because many people, especially children, have new outfits – often in the beautiful local bazzin fabric – which has a self-pattern and is dyed in a range of wonderful colours, and starched and beaten to achieve a polished effect. So it should be a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach. Watch this space, there may be pics!