Thursday, July 9, 2009

Pecking order

This past Sunday we attended a celebration for a newly appointed religious politician within one of the orders John is studying. Basically, it boiled down to a political rally. Many words of praise, prayers, music and dancing. It became apparent to me that there was a definite caste system in place. The officials, all male, sat on a dias above everyone else, and are the highest class. Then, the griots - both the drummers and the women who dance, sing and rally for cheers. The woman above with the whistle in her mouth is a griot. They provide the music, and tell the stories in praise of the new "chief". The women themselves could be divided into their own hierarchy. There are the griot women, the "average joe" women, and the women married to important men, who ranked higher up the pecking order. They are the women sitting near the men, or standing and clapping. Women would pay respects to other women of a higher class by shaking hands, and photographers were sure to take pictures of these women. I learned that the more important the woman, the bigger the headdress - the fabric tied around their heads in an intricate knot - and the later the arrival. The women were pushy, in that they insisted upon chairs placed as close as possible to the action, even if there wasn't room. We ended up knee deep in  colorful, pushy African women. It was an interesting experience. Being white, we garnered a lot of looks from the women. We got there early (mere peons, we are, to be on time!) and secured good seats - until the women came and insisted upon 4 more rows to be added in front of us, before all was said and done. I really enjoyed the drumming, and the dancing, although the whistle blowing became soooo annoying. Most importantly, John obtained excellent resources for his work. Baax na (very good)! 

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