With over 85% of the Malian population being Muslim, you won’t find much of a Christmas atmosphere. With no Christmas trees or decorations to be found and warm sunlit days I found it hard to realize Christmas was coming up. Only a few days before the 25th I had a talk with Amadou and the outcome was that we would put on a final sprint with the work still to be done in and around the house and throw a house warming party/Christmas dinner on the 25th. And so we did!
The plumber left the house the 25th around 5pm, after having repaired the last leaking toilet and replacing the mains one more time. The last cleaning job was done, while I was busy preparing the meal with Mariama and Ebi and Seydou had worked hard cleaning around the house and sweeping the garden. My good kitchen knife had been ruined trying to cut the bones of the sheep that had been slaughtered that morning and rumors were all around that we could expect some crowds that evening. Even though we had only started inviting people a few days before, the word had definitely been spread. And for those who had not yet heard about it, it was obviously clear there would be a party when they saw Amadou walking through town with a sheep on the 24th.
A Malian Muslim may not have too much knowledge about Christmas, they do love a party and will attend if they have no other obligations, especially when there’s food involved. And yes, we did get quite a crowd. They came, sat down, most of them without greeting me, they ate their fill and left, most of them without saying goodbye. Some of the friends I really would have loved to be there made it only for a brief moment and not even two hours after the start, the party was over. The people had loved the good food and gratified their curiosity, leaving us with the dishes and leftovers.
I felt rather disappointed after all the work we had put into it and when I mentioned that to Amadou his face grew sombre. Once again I had not realized that it is impossible for him to be happy when I am not satisfied with the outcome of something.
It had been a great party for them, since food is kind of the most important thing for people here. And how often do they find spaghetti with lots of vegetables, a salad on the side and an abundance of sheep..?
I still have a lot to learn here..!