Location: Goreé Island, Dakar, Senegal; Material: Coconut Shells & Wood
On September 25th (when I was living and working in the West African country of Senegal), I attended an event for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha (known as “Tabaske” in Senegal), which is the traditional feast of sacrifice celebration for Muslims (Senegal is a Muslim country) to both slaughter, eat, and share the meat of chosen animals (for us, it was goats). This event took place on Senegal’s famous Goreé Island, which is an important UNESCO World Heritage Site because it was where many Africans were brought before setting sale to the Americas during the period when Europeans were bringing people from Africa to work in America as slaves. Today, this island serves as a reminder of the cruelty and horror of slavery.
I am always someone who is interested in the practices of different cultures, faiths, etc., but this was a difficult celebration for me as a vegetarian and avid animal lover. Aside from the animal killings (which, to be honest, was much more ethical than any American meat sources. Plus, none of the meat goes to waste and the animal is thanked before it is killed), the day consisted of prayer (not for me, but for the Muslims), getting to know one another, eating, and most beautifully of all, a warm welcome we received when getting to the island. Upon arrival via boat, a number of island inhabitants presented the group of us (both men and women) with beautiful necklaces made locally. (We were assured that these were paid for by someone, which helped support the livelihoods of these local people!) The one above was the one that was placed on my neck. I absolutely love the colors and materials of the necklace. A special thank you to the people of Goreé Island who made it!