Published: November 19th 2011November 19th 2011
Last Friday Fatou’s sister had a baby girl and they’ve only gone and named her after me. I can’t work out whether it’s called Fatou or Sarah yet because they seem to be calling it both but it means I have a namesake which is a great honor and a big deal here by the looks of things. I couldn’t believe it when Fatou told me. I thought she was taking the mick. She said it was because they like me. The brief times I have spent with them I have no idea what is being said other than good afternoon and how are you, so that is lovely, and a big relief, to hear.
Yesterday afternoon we went round to meet baby Sarah/Fatou. Under Fatou’s instruction I took attaya, two tins of milk and two bags of sugar. Fatou’s sister’s compound is a big one always full of women and children who no doubt are related in some roundabout and complicated way. Weirdly there never seems to be any men about. They all went crazy when we turned up particularly when they saw the attaya and the 50 dalasi I was also told to give them. We were led
inside the house with all the women and children piling in after us. I wish I could understand what they were all saying. All I got was lots of shrieking, laughing, clapping, dancing and general bouncing about and only understood the cries of Fatou and Sarah every couple of words as they handed me the baby. I sat in my usually bewildered state, smiling, trying to look like I knew what was happening.
Afterwards we went outside where I was given the baby to hold for the rest of the afternoon while the attaya brewed. Adama asked me the other day what I would buy for a baby at home. I said people usually buy some clothes or some kind of toy. Adama looked a bit amazed and said ‘Only one toy or one bit of clothing!’ I asked what I was expected to buy here. She said because she was my namesake ‘You will buy a big ‘baby pan’ full of clothes and toys and powders. You would normally have to give money and buy food and a ram but don’t worry we won’t expect it from you’. Phew! Ram’s are a small fortune to buy and I
wouldn't fancy that little shopping expedition.
Next week is the elections, which should be an interesting event, so poor baby Sarah/Fatou has to wait till that’s all over to be officially named. I’m secretly hoping it’ll be Sarah. I think it will be a party to look forward to if the excitement of this afternoon is anything to go by. I hope they don’t expect me to slaughter any poor rams!