EID AL-FITR AND THE SENEGALESE TERANGA

Something smelled different that day. After living with The Sane’s family for in the Ramadan month, in the little village of Niaguis, that 6th July welcomed us to Eid al-Fitr or Eid Mubarack. That is a special day where millions of muslims all over the world celebrate the end of Ramadan.

Joy, kindness, emotion…and more positive values were growing even more in each and every smile, in each and every face, in a day where you realized routine was  being finally broken. I was like when we were kids and had to go on excursion or, when in our childhood, we were so excited because our birthday party was getting closer.

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I really do not why but, somehow, as that day was passing by, I was able to find out many similarities with my little town, Aielo de Malferit’s biggest festival. Processions, saints and virgins being carried by people, music bands, holy sentences and priests in and out of churches. Parishioners paying attention, or not, to the priests giving speeches about life and other matters. People dressed with their best attires walking over the village, greeting friends, uncles, aunties, cousins, neighbors…

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Of course special lunch/dinner had to be there. After a whole month hardly eating, many domestic animals waited their final destiny, a big family lunch. Hens, Chickens, cabras, corderos…depending of how much money you were able to spend, those animals were about to satisfy empty stomachs, wishing to give them the pleasure of enjoying, at least that day, something more than rice with fish and bread.

For those non muslims like me, we could eat whenever we wanted in Ramadan period. Nevertheless, I wanted to prove myself, like a spiritual exercise, and join them the last four days. I joined them. No water, no food during the day. It is not that easy, above all when you are not used to it. As the sunset was approaching, I was able to understand better how much happy some of muslim people were when bread with the or coffee were about to fill empty stomachs and thirsty throats.

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I have to say that here in Senegal, muslims and christians live together with no signe of conflict or disturbing issue. Both attend each other’s festival and celebrations. Many times, in countries with religion conflicts, Senegal has been set as a perfect example of peaceful cohabitation and tolerance within  religions.

However, I might assume we mostly agree that certain traditions has to be changed, modified, adjusted…if you want to advance to gender’s equity, to respect, to reach working rights, quality in education, health, social services. This month in Senegal I have talked with senegalese people critic with some of their traditions. For example, having big families can be a problem if you have not much money and want to give your children an affordable education or feed and dress them properly. Besides, women’s role needs to change and walk through more equity and rights.

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For those reasons, AFRICAHUGS is based in education. The one that will give you the proper skills to make you think critically, to improve your routines, to question yourself about life, roles and behaviors. ¿What else is education basically if not that? What is more, AFRICAHUGS will also try to describe inspiring examples of africans acquiring those patters. We will tell their story. We will write about their projects, their ideas, theirs goals to develop their communities and improve other’s condition.

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A whole month learning from people, from their culture, from their traditions, from the « Teranga » that particular kindness and hospitality senegalese have within them. Each day, each minute, each second I have been able to feel those approaching gestures, mankind, as if I was at home.

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I still have to learn a lot from Africa. AFRICAHUGS has a long journey ahead. A long voyage I would love to achieve together with you, with your energy and support. Then, As I am doing every week, it will be a pleasure to share with you my experiences, my hopes for a better Africa, for a better world. Next July 11th we will be in Guinea Bissau. As said, I would appreciate if I could count on your support, reading every story, sharing, writing your opinion, your thoughts…