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Feast & Sacrifice
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Feast & Sacrifice
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Where the Water Meets the Sky
Deya and his large extended family live in a tiny village in Senegal, on the ragged edges of globalization and immigration. Questions of work and ambition arise as the family prepares for Tabaski, the biggest holiday of the year.
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Produced and directed by Clare Major.

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Segment 1

DEYA
This is Saare Muudu, Senegal. I was born here. This is the only place I know. This is the cow pasture. Cows are like money, like cars. Cows are everything. Here, there are lots of problems. After the farming season, no one works. They don't earn money. If you have problems, there's no money. Instead, you sell a cow. If I sell a cow this month, next month I'll have another problem and sell another cow. Before long, I'll be all out of cows.
VOICEOVER
Deya's household, one of four in the village, includes Deya's two wives, each of Deya's two brothers’ two wives, fifteen children, seventy-seven cows, and dozens of sheep, goats, and chickens. Today the family is preparing for the biggest holiday of the year: Tabaski, the Islamic Feast of the Sacrifice.
TITLE
Feast & Sacrifice
KANNI
It's a big celebration, the Tabaski holiday. Everyone's happy. People buy clothes, buy shoes. Everyone buys a ram. On Tabaski, they kill it. They go to town, buy bread, buy potatoes, sweet potatoes, seasoning, macaroni, buy everything, lots of pepper. Cook until it's good, the whole family eats.
VOICEOVER
To see how big Tabaski is in Senegal, you have to go to the capital, Dakar. At Tabaski, it’s a religious, and social, expectation for Muslim households to buy and slaughter a ram.
MAN
You've got ones for $40, $50, $60, $100, $165, $185, $200, $300, $400, $1000.
VOICEOVER
In Senegal, where a day’s wages, if you have work, are around three dollars, this is a big deal. And for Deya in Saare Muudu, where paid work is scarce, the Tabaski ram and other holiday foods are major purchases.
DEYA
This is what's in my bag today.
INTERVIEWER
How much is that?
DEYA
$10.50.
INTERVIEWER
$10.50 is enough to buy food?
DEYA
Not enough. I'll sell some grain. I'll have more cash here, and then I'll buy food. With this, I can buy oil, two liters, then it's done. This here, this can buy tomato paste. One can, I think, is $1.25. That leaves 60¢. I can buy salt.
KANNI
I think my sauce will be tasty today, if Allah wills it.
WOMAN
It better be good, you've got lots of vegetables.
VOICEOVER
The household relies on money from Deya’s two brothers, Maliki and Alahji, who are working in Spain.
VOICEOVER
Alahji, Kanni’s husband, was the first of Deya’s brothers to leave.
ALAHJI
I left Senegal in 1999. I came here seeking something. I’m helping my children until they can live a good life.
KANNI
My husband’s in Spain. I miss him! If we don’t have grain, they can send money. People can buy rice, buy grain, they’ll eat.
VOICEOVER
Maliki, Kanni’s brother-in-law, is visiting for Tabaski. He went to Spain in 2003, but returns almost every year to visit the family.
MALIKI
Look at our household: it’s full of people. But only three people work. Maliki, Alahji, Deya. You know women don't have work. The women, what work do they do?
INTERVIEWER
They work...
MALIKI
They don't work at all.
KANNI
Women's work? Women pound grain. Women cook. Women pull water. Women sweep. Women clean. Women collect firewood. Women pull water. Women wash clothes. Women have a lot of work!
INTERVIEWER
Men refuse to help the women?
DEYA
They don't help!
INTERVIEWER
Why?
DEYA
That's just how people do it in this country. Senegal, that's just how it is.
AADAMA
You know the holiday work? We’ll cook sauce. We’ll eat till we’re full! We’ll cook so much sauce!
GIRL
What about seasoning? You have money?
AADAMA
We'll buy a box of seasoning. I'll save one packet. That night, we'll buy macaroni. We'll cook sauce with onions.
MALIKI
We left the country and we went to Spain. We work there, earn a little. We bring it here. But really, farming's better. We know farming's better for us.
USUMAN
Boys, they don't want to farm! If I go to Europe, Spain, I'll go, go, go, until I get to Spain. In Spain, I’ll get lots of money. I'll take everyone here and build floors way up high! I'll build floors way up! I'll have a house in town, a house in Dakar. I’ll go to Dakar and relax.
MALIKI
If you say it’s hard [in Spain], they think it’s just talk, but it’s not really hard. If someone says, “I want to go,” you tell him, “Stay here and work. Here’s better than there.” He’ll say, “Why don’t you stay here? If here’s better, you stay here, too!” But you can’t stay! .
MALIKI
Why are you doing it like that? It's spilling.
KANNI
So it doesn't spill? You just pick it up.
MALIKI
Who picks it up?
KANNI
Everybody does! Every time it spills, I pick it up!
MALIKI
You know this happens, you're a grown woman. You shouldn't be lazy.
KANNI
Do you do this work? Can you say what shouldn't spill?
MALIKI
That's not true. Put a sack down to catch what spills.
KANNI
I couldn't even find a tiny bag, I looked.
WOMAN
Usuman, turn it down! He said to turn your radio down!
MALIKI
All is well there?
MALIKI
You’re all healthy? Praise Allah. I can’t talk, my phone credit will run out.
TITLE
Market Day
VOICEOVER
It is the day before Tabaski, and Kanni’s going to town to buy food for the holiday with the money Deya has set aside.
DEYA
Abdoulaye, bring me my bag! Go buy what that'll get you.
VOICEOVER
The cost of the holiday foods, vegetables, macaroni, adds up quickly.
SHOPKEEPER
This is $6.50.
KANNI
$6.50? Only $6, Daouda! This here, how much now?
SHOPKEEPER
All of it? $11.07.
KANNI
$11.07?
SHOPKEEPER
Yes.
VOICEOVER
Usually, village meals are predictable. Millet couscous. Corn couscous. Peanut sauce. More peanut sauce. Very few vegetables. Saare Muudu started a vegetable garden three years ago. It was part of a Peace Corps development project, requested by the village.
KANNI
We grew a lot there! Mint, okra, hibiscus. But men don't garden. Only women water it, tend it. But last year women couldn't garden. Gardening's hard work, you know? Me, I was pregnant. Bomel was pregnant. Fanta was pregnant. Bamba's household, you see? Bobel, Kumba, all of them. Sambajo's two wives. One gave birth, one was pregnant. Tuuta's household, Juulde, Aljuma, Kaijel. They were all pregnant. You can't do garden work if you're pregnant. Last year I was so sick, I thought I'd die.
VOICEOVER
In 2008, Kanni’s then16-year-old daughter, Maymuna, left the village to live with her father, Alahji, in Spain.
TITLE
Cassa de la Selva, Spain
MAYMUNA
In Saare Muudu, you’re fourteen, or fifteen and they say, “She’s grown! Give her a husband!” That’s what they told me. I said, “No. Me, I don’t want a husband. Bring me to Spain, I’ll work. I’ll get a husband there.” Because, you see, in Africa, you get a husband, you get a lot of babies! If little kids have husbands, it’s bad.
VOICEOVER
But for Aadama, Maymuna’s little sister, these are open questions.

Segment 2

INTERVIEWER
How old are you now?
KANNI
No, leave your shirt alone! Say six years old. Say you're six years old.
AADAMA
Six years!
KANNI
Six.
INTERVIEWER
When Aadama is a little older, she'll go to Spain?
KANNI
Aadama? I don't think she'll go to Spain. Aadama won’t go.
INTERVIEWER
She'll go to school, or she'll get married?
KANNI
I think she'll go to school because Deya said she will marry her cousin. I think she'll go to school until she's big. That's good.
INTERVIEWER
And how old will Aadama be when she gets married?
KANNI
I think she'll be 18.
INTERVIEWER
And you, when you were married?
KANNI
Only 15 years old! Fifteen years old. I had a husband.
INTERVIEWER
You were a little kid.
KANNI
Just a little kid! I was just a little kid. Only 15 years old. I had a husband.
INTERVIEWER
But you agreed to it?
KANNI
I hadn't studied, I didn't know anything. I'd never gone to school. Back then, if your parents said they gave you to a husband, you said yes. You were afraid to refuse.
TITLE
The Day of Tabaski
VOICEOVER
On the morning of Tabaski, Maliki buys bread as a breakfast treat. New clothes are given out as presents.
MALIKI
Allah requires the ram. A long time ago, a prophet wanted to sacrifice a ram.
DEYA
He wanted to, but he didn't have a ram. He said he'd use his child. He asked his child, "Do you agree?" The child said, "Yes, I agree. Do it." Allah removed the child and put a ram there instead. Now everyone does this.
MALIKI
When I was a little kid, there weren't many problems. There were only two concerns: farming and herding. Not a single other problem. There were lots of people, but no lack of grain. Every year, the rains were good. People, their hearts were alive. You understand? Their hearts were alive. Work was all they wanted. They didn't dream of going anywhere. They didn't dream of going overseas. They didn't dream of anything. If the rains just came, everyone dreamed, "If I work, I'll have lots of grain."
IMAM
Allahu Akbar.
MALIKI
Now, people want money. To wear good clothes, wear good shoes. They want everything. Everything. There's no work, who can do that?
DEYA
Sadu! Come on! Stop, Mahamadou. There.
VOICEOVER
The ram slaughter follows religious guidelines. The ram lies with its neck facing Mecca, and the men say a blessing as the throat is cut.
MAYMUNA
That's Kanni's field. Senegal's better, to me.
INTERVIEWER
Why?
MAYMUNA
Why? Because here, you stay at your house. You don't go out, don’t know many people. I go to school, I come back, I cook, I eat, I sit and watch TV. When that's done, I sleep. But in Senegal you don't sit around. You go to all the households, like one family.
KANNI
Mamadou, in Dakar.
AADAMA
That's Mamadou?
KANNI
That’s Mamadou, that's me. This is Aadama. This is Maymuna, here. That's the only photo, I don't have any others of Maymuna. Here's Alahji on a motorcycle, going to town. I was on the motorcycle! I took the photo! Kids have gone to Spain. If they go to Spain, if they study, they can work some, they can help their father.
INTERVIEWER
But you aren't going to go?
KANNI
Me, I won't go.
INTERVIEWER
Why not?
KANNI
I can't go! The kids can't take me, their dad says I won't go! I'll only be here. Their dad refuses. He says he'll only take kids.
INTERVIEWER
Why?
KANNI
I don't know why. Because I think they only like to take kids.
WOMAN 1
You put in macaroni?
WOMAN 2
I already did!
VOICEOVER
For the Tabaski meal, people eat in groups. All the girls, the boys, the men, and the women travel to each compound to share some of each family’s food.
WOMAN
Come on, let's go!
INTERVIEWER
Later on, do you want to live in Spain?
MAYMUNA
No, I want to go home.
INTERVIEWER
Tell me about that.
MAYMUNA
Because if you only live here, it’s no good, because your family is there. My mom had a baby, he won’t know me. He’ll say, “Who’s Maymuna?” I’ll stay here until I’ve helped my whole family, then I’ll go home.
INTERVIEWER
Soon, or a long time from now?
MAYMUNA
A long time from now.