Ga Duniya

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Thanksgiving in Niger

The last time I traveled to Niger, I had the option of missing either Thanksgiving or Christmas back home. I chose Thanksgiving. I still wanted to celebrate the holiday, though, so I found a way to do so with my Nigerien family. In the absence of a turkey, we slaughtered a guinea fowl.

If I were a Nigerien woman, one thing I’d be thankful for in the midst of this very male-dominated society is that the task of slitting an animal’s throat falls upon the man. And then if the animal is any sort of bird, it’s handed to the woman to de-feather and prepare. I worked on a chicken once when I was a volunteer, and the dead thing kept squawking as I squeezed its belly to pull out the feathers. This time I chose to just observe. So did Madou’s 10-month old son Aminou, who played around in the dirty feathers and fowl guts and bloody knives as he pleased. Pregnant with my first child at the time of that trip, I’d never realized until then how many dangers Nigerien babies are surrounded by. Or is it how overly-protective we American mothers are? For me, I’ve found a balance between realizing a little germ exposure is okay for my baby, but I keep her away from dead animals and such.

The guinea fowl was tasty, as it always is. And I was thankful to be surrounded by my African family.


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