2017 Damba Festival in Nalerigu

Another year, another Damba Festival! This year Heidi was able to attend the festival with me to see the main events. One of the coolest things however was that I was invited to attend the Na’akyimma Wa or Young Men’s Dance on the nights leading up to the festival.

Here is a slideshow of photos from the festival but you can head over to my Flickr gallery to browse all my 2017 Damba Festival images.

2017 Damba Festival - Nalerigu

Nyin ni i zɔ diri la din malisa, ka nyin ni i dɔ'ara diri din tɔa

You and your friend get what’s sweet and you and your relation gets what’s bitter.

Mampruli Proverb

Dry Season Mystery Spots

Here’s a puzzle for you! Have a look at the satellite image above which was taken in December 2016. Notice all the white spots scattered across it?

Below is the same aerial view taken in the rainy season. Notice that the white spots are missing?

So what do you think the spots are? Scroll down after the jump for the answer!

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Magic Traps

On a recent hike I came across piles of recently harvested beans on a large stony area. Each large pile had a small shea nut tree branch and a piece of dried okra set on top. My guides were Bimoba who spoke no English and a little Mampruli. They managed to communicate that the branch and okra were meant to deter thieves.

I took some photos and came home and showed them to my language teacher. He laughed and identified them as bumbɛriga or magic traps. Magic traps are a whole category of juju that come in a variety of forms. The general idea is that some sort of curse or misfortune will fall upon anyone who steals or harms that which the trap protects.

In this particular case, the superstition is that the okra will render the thief infertile and the branch will cause him to get deathly ill if he ever eats anything with shea nut butter in it.

Earlier this year I also came across a bumbɛriga on a loaded mango tree in Zɔgyiligu. It was in the form of a gourd hanging from the tree. It had a few markings on it and had been stuff with some secret ingredients. The tree owner simply told me it would kill any thieves.

Gbinnya'ari = "Butt Roots" = Laziness

Sometimes other languages say it best. The word for laziness in Mampruli is gbinnya’ari which is transliterated as “butt roots.” So a lazy person is a gbinnya’adaana or “one with butt roots.” They’ve been sitting on their butts doing nothing for so long that they’ve grown roots!

Zenabu’s Baby Naming Ceremony

My good friend Kolbugri‘s second wife Fozeaa just had another baby girl and they invited us to the suna (baby naming ceremony). I was honored to be invited to the observe the ceremony where the Muslim elders come and bless the child. This is a private ritual that I had not yet seen in my three years here.

Here’s how it went down. An Islamic name was chosen by the lumaam (maalam) based on the child’s gender and birth day of the week. One of the men brought the name over on a piece of paper and presented it to the father and who passed it around to those attending the ceremony.

ZENABU was the name to be given. It is a transliteration of the Arabic name  زينب, or “Zaynab” which was Mohammed’s daughter’s name. It is also connected to the Hebrew name ‘Zenyeb’ which means ‘pride of her father’. Read More