Visiting with one of the Dièye daughter-in-laws… also named Khady!

The first time I lived in Senegal, I was a public health worker and part of that role including helping coordinate volunteer medical teams coming from the US. The women in the hosting villages would often make huge meals as a way of thanking the team members.

Cheikh greeting his Senegalese mom, Yaye Coumba

But those toubab team members weren’t used to eating heavy rice-based meals on hot days, so I would eat. And eat. And eat. And eat. All with the goal of making it look like the team had appreciated the meal and eaten well.

Eating ceebu jen with the Dièye family

I thought this secret plan was working just swimmingly until my parents came out to visit. When they met the village chief, he informed them that their daughter had ‘the stomach of a cow’ and could really put away some food.

Walking into the Dièye courtyard

I am very, very happy to report that on our recent trip to Saint-Louis, I did not have to bust out my cow’s stomach. My mother-in-law tucked herself in shoulder-to-shoulder, grabbed a big spoon at dug into some ceebu jen! And then she kept digging…

Pape with his namesake

One by one, people pulled away from the common bowl. But she kept going. Finally it was just down to two people: Cheikh’s toubab mom and his Senegalese brother, Pape. I have never, ever seen Pape surrender his ceeb spoon before the platter was empty. But on Saturday, he plopped the spoon down and said to her, “Today, you are the winner.”

Now I would never say that my mother-in-law has the stomach of a cow, but I will say that I was so, so proud of her.

Pape and Pape

There were many reasons for us to make the trip up north to Saint-Louis. One the larger reasons is pictured above: for Pape (the younger) to spend some time with his namesake, Pape (the elder).

See that middle door? That’s the room Cheikh lived in for over a year.

Cheikh lived in Saint-Louis for just over a year, and he lived with the Dièye family in their compound. When it came time for us to choose a Senegalese name for our wee one, we easily and immediately decided to name him after Cheikh’s Senegalese brother. So there you have it… Pape and Pape. And this was our first time taking little Pape up to meet the rest of the fam.

Getting to know Yaye Coumba

Another big(ger) reason was because Cheikh’s toubab mom and Senegalese mom were finally on the same continent and needed to meet! We had waited for this day for a long, long time. And it was every bit as cool (well, actually quite hot and sticky) as we’d hoped.

As we were leaving, Penni (via Cheikh translating) expressed her thanks to Yaye Coumba, mother-to-mother. I loved Yaye’s response: “A child is a child. We take care of each other’s.”

Left to right: Yaye Lemou (another wife of Cheikh’s Senegalese dad), Penni, (toubab mom), Cheikh, and Yaye Coumba (his Senegalese mom)

This photo opp made me laugh. “How many moms does it take to keep Cheikh in line?” I think he made it out of the weekend without any of them swatting him with a flip-flop…. more than I can say for some of the kids in the village!

Pape’s family: his beautiful wife, Oumy, and their two kids
His son, Baye Ndiawar… and his yogurt mustache.
And his daughter, Yaye Coumba (called Mamie). She reminds us so much of our niece, Renae!
And his toubab nephew.
Yaye Coumba, Pape’s mom
Chillin’ on a mat in the courtyard
Someone got to play in sand for the very first time!
Greeting some of the men from the village on our way into town
Oumy making fatayas to sell at her restaurant
Ahmed and Mamie wrestling in the sand
The door to Oumy’s restaurant
I love this one. It was taken as they were getting ready to pose for a ‘mom with her two sons’ photo.
Making his little self right at home
Penni holding the gift (wax fabric) Yaye Coumba gave her
Dièye women making attaya, Senegalese tea
Fishing boats in Saint-Louis
“Those two wear such bland colors,” said No One Ever.

Any photos in this post that make you think, “Wow!” were probably taken by Penelope Jordan.