Name that baby!

Adama Benjamin Fall

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.

Getting scarfed by women at the hotel before we left.

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…

Women cooking behind the house

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.

Us in our Senegalese finest

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.

A friend of the Falls eating laax

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.

Cheikh visiting with the men

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.

Sitting under a tent with Aminata, where we spent most of the day

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.

Women and children gathered around common bowls for lunch

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!

One of a couple little naps of the day

Or you can play with babies

The DeVroome family

Lunch around the common bowl

Valerie, Jeana and me

Yum... ram and rice!

The Fall family

11 Responses

  1. Beautiful outfits! I also loved all the pictures and details, but as your mother, I’d also like to know about the things you skillfully skipped over, such as the fender-bender and the forced detour.

    Will you and Jonathan have a baby naming ceremony also?


    • No worries, Mom. Road was blocked due to construction. As a taxi was making the u-turn, he hit the DeVroomes’ car. But not serious damage. Just a pain and took a little time, then we were off like a herd of turtles…


  2. Great post! I love the pictures! Thanks so much for coming all the way down. You guys are giving Aminata a good sampling of Senegalese culture in her 6 weeks here


  3. Khady! Love reading all of your posts, they are always so informative and interesting. Your dress is beautiful and blue is definitely a great color for you.


  4. you guys looked absolutely gorgeous! both of you. i can say that if jonathan’s wearing a dress, right? :-)
    looks like fun. i wonder how many years this will go on, me being more than a tad bit jealous?


  5. Thanks for posting Karri! (sorry if I spelled your name wrong :-0) Great pics and you look beautiful napping!


  6. I love reading your adventures! You look really beautiful! Congratulations on the baby coming soon. :) Jennifer


  7. Y’all look gorgeous! And the Fall Family has FIVE boys!! I’m tired just thinking about it. Maybe I’ll take a little nap… :)


  8. Customs are fascinating; interesting.


  9. […] answer is this. In Senegalese tradition, a baby’s head is shaved on the day of their ngente (naming ceremony), usually at eight days old. So it’s normal for a teeny baby to be bald, but […]


  10. […] Ol’ what’s-her-name Senegalese babies are given their names at their ngente (baptism) when they are eight days old. Since bébé is not yet that old, no one asks her […]


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