Yep, we were shocked too. It snuck up on us. But before we knew it people were arriving to borrow pans, use our blender, bake keki in the oven, bring us food, inviting us over to visit relatives, and kids came over by the dozens requesting “siku kuu yangu.” Siku kuu for sure.
This one is called Eid al Adha and people have to sacrifice an animal, usually a goat, cow, sheep, or even camel. Our friends here say this is to remember the sacrifice God provided Abraham (or Ibrahimu). Each family or community is required to sacrifice and then the offering is to be split into 3 parts; one for their family, one for relatives, and one for the poor. We asked lots of questions and most of our friends do not actually sacrifice themselves but say that their neighbors or relative sacrificed on their behalf. This may be because it is pretty expense to follow this or because many people simply follow the culture but do not know the actually meaning behind some holidays. This is also the time of the year people who have the means make the pilgrimage to Mecca. We are always learning more about the whats and as we live here longer we begin to get a better picture of the whys.
We decided that we would hang low this siku kuu since Evy is still recovering (us too!) so no far safaris like last time. We just stayed around our neighborhood and ventured out to visit a few friends that live about 10 minutes away. Still busy and tiring but much less crazy that last time. Our oven broke after only one batch of cakes so we had to give out lots of poles to neighbors seeking to bake their keki. But it also helped make the day less chaotic so secretly we were not that bummed. I went out in the morning with a neighbor and Mama of one of my shule watoto. We headed out to visit her parents but Anni and I ended up meeting everyone that lived within a 10 block radius. It was like ‘let’s parade the Wazungu around’ through the mud (lost my shoe twice) followed by a growing pack of watoto who quickly became Anni’s posse.
We also sat for a while with the women as they were preparing the food. We missed the chicken slaughter by about 10 minutes (yeah!) but still managed to be given seat next to it’s head and blood covering the floor while a sister of my friend plucked the feathers.
We women folk were all put to work helping preparing, sorting, cleaning, and cutting the food for the massive quantities of rice, mchuzi (curry), and juice that would be the meal later in the day. As always it was tons of work but done in community while talking about the latest news, events, markets prices, and gossip (the women here can TALK!) does not feel like so much work (except for the heat!). The food was also really yummy….as long as you don’t think too much about the process 🙂
rumor had it one of these guys was gonna go the way of the ancestors very soon
Later in the day we headed over to our island family and then to some neighbors. We were weighed down with gifts by the time we left and given some sprinkling of rose water.
It is an Arabic tradition used for praying that has become part of the culture here for weddings, special days, etc. Our Baba told us they were going to pray for their ancestors later.
Evy & Anni enjoy some siku kuu spoiling!
Annikah loved indulging in juice, cakes, and handing out candies which also served to endear her to children everywhere. Baba and Mama also were impressed by her kucheza dufu (local dancing) and Kiswahili. Show off!
Last stop was handing our cakes and candy to shule kids and their families and stopping to see some friends who have been experiencing some terrible sickness in their family. Some people believe that sickness can be caused by “jicho baya” or the evil eye and we wanted to encourage them and share the hope we have when we are sick. One friend told us she thought the evil eye (or a jealous person casting a spell of sorts) may have caused Evy to be sick. We heard their news and shared how difficult it was for us when Evy was sick but how grateful we are that God healed her! How even in the midst we knew He was in control and we have no reason to fear. They knew other children that had Typhoid and we got lots of poles for her.
After more sugary juice, cakes, and cookies (think sugar comma) we headed home. I wish I could adequately describe the unique sights and pungent smells, the hum and buzz of activity, the brilliant colors, the hugs and hand holding, greetings exchanged, the piles of shoes at the entrance to a home but I struggle to capture the people and the life here. We continue to be blessed by the community here. It was a siku kuu njema!