This past weekend was Easter, and while I didn’t get to participate in any egg hunts, I did get to observe how Senegalese celebrate the holiday (and I even got to eat pork for the first time since I have been here). The religious split in Senegal is roughly 95% Muslim and 5% Christian, and I would argue that the relationship between the religious majority and minority is very unique and completely different from that of the United States.
During the Christian holidays, those who are celebrating will cook massive amounts of food so that they can share with all of their Muslim neighbors and friends. On the flip side, Muslims offer food to their Christian friends during Muslim holidays. Being here during Easter definitely gave me the sense that celebrating holidays, even if you’re celebrating for your friends, is an absolute must.
Year after year on the day before Good Friday, Senegalese Christians prepare ngalakh, a sweet peanut butter dish made with fruit from the baobab tree, millet, and whatever other sweet fruits are around. Our Christian friend here told us that his mother stayed up all night and ended up making 3 massive tubs of it to share with the community. I hadn’t realized that when I was eating it for lunch that day, it had come from his house. Later, I saw all of our other friends with little personal sized buckets of it. For the rest of the weekend you would see people whip out a mini bucket and go in on some gnalakh. It is absolutely delicious and I only wish I could eat a bucket of it every single day.
Saturday night, we were all invited to our friends’ house for dinner. Their family had prepared a massive amount of food—10 entire chickens over the course of two days to be exact. On Easter Sunday we ate at their house again for lunch and their family party resembled that of an Easter party in the US, but with way more people from the community, regardless of religion.
Overall, it was a fantastic weekend and if anyone knows where I can find a baobab tree in DC, please let me know.