No, you didn’t miss a birth announcement. This toubab baby is not ours
Yesterday we went to this little guy’s baby naming ceremony, called an ‘ngente’ in Wolof. His parents are friends of ours and they wanted to celebrate his birth in Senegalese fashion.
While we were getting dressed at the hotel (traditional clothes all around!), the festivities had already started on the other side of town. Actually, the preparations started a couple days ago as friends of the Fall family came to help slaughter the ram, make the yogurt, etc…
Essentially, the friends throw the party for the family having the baby. The family pays for it, but the friends do all the work – and it’s a. lot. of. work.
So let’s go back to the hotel that morning. We finally loaded our decked out selves into cars to drive across town. One police stop, a fender-bender and a forced detour later… we arrived as the ‘official’ part of the ceremony was ending.
During this part of day, the friends of the family gathered to sing some songs, the baby’s name was announced (Adama Benjamin Fall), the biblical meaning of the name was explained by a friend of the family (Adama = Adam in Wolof), the baby is prayed for.
Then they bust out the champagne! Well, not really. But the sentiment is similar as bowls of laax (hot millet and freshly made sweet yogurt) are joyfully passed around for everyone to eat and enjoy. We arrived as the laax was being shared – sooooo good.
As guests arrive throughout the day, each one is given a bowl of laax.
After the laax makes the rounds, the visiting begins. And it lasts until… well, all day long. Generally the men congregate in one place and the women and children in another.
The tent we were sitting under got progressively more populated as the day went on and more guests arrived. By the time we ate lunch (about 3pm), it was pretty packed.
When you first arrive in Senegal, it can be really hard to just sit all day long. But it really is nice once you’re able to do it And if you get tired, you can always take a nap!