Ethnographic notes from a people group in Mali

Posts Tagged ‘blue clothes’


Posted by maggie on August 19, 2008

When I returned to the village I heard from my guard, that T. one of our friends has not yet come to greet me, because he is in charge of the kondenbee, the circumcised kids, but that “they will go home the next day.” This means that I unfortunately missed most of the ceremony which does not happen very often. 😦

Another friend came this morning, telling me about it as well. He could not come yesterday either, because it was his turn to provide a meal. Since there are about 260 kondenbee, plus the helpers, there are about 300 people to feed. It took him three sacks of rice and two sheep for one meal. Every day another person has volunteered to feed the kids, starting with the village chief and the imam.

From what different people told me:

They were together for 15 days. Because the ceremony happens only every seven to eight years there are so many children, some are even too young. They stayed at the school compound during this time and were supervised by people like my friend T. Since the class rooms are not big enough to hold everybody, some of them slept outside. This is the reason that it has not rained during the last week even though we are already in rainy season.

Today I went to visit T. and see some of the ceremony before it is all over.

When I went to the school compound nobody was there. There were some men further to the edge of the village, slaughtering a cow. A boy helped me to find my friend T. He and the circumcised children were just walking through the whole village, chanting under the leadership of an adult, in order to thank everybody for their contributions. Most of them were dressed in blue, a few in green, some had only a loin cloth in white. The chanting leader had a rattle. Many kids had sticks, which they waved in the air when I took photos. Many women came to their doorways to receive the blessings, or followed them around and shouted blessing on the whole group of children. Some gave coins to the supervisors. There was also a crowd of girls, but they were chased away by the supervisors. At one point one of the supervisors encouraged the boys to go after them, and they ran away. But the other supervisor reprimanded the boys for doing this.

When I had stopped going around with the boys, the women showed me where they were preparing the meal. In front of the village chief’s house there were 10-20 (maybe 30) women busy pounding millet. Two large cooking pots waited at the wall. Older women were busy sifting the pounded millet. One women mixed water under the millet on a mat. K. seemed to be the main organizer, coordinating the efforts of the other women.

After this I went back to see what the men were doing. They had finished slaughtering the cow. Parts of it were on a huge grill roast. They told me that it was one cow and three goats. They were sorting the inner parts into small piles (probably as gifts for the people who contributed to the meal or dignitaries). Several elderly men were sitting on mats. One was using the fiber of a rice sack to make ropes for attaching animals. They asked me to give them some cola money. I did not have any money with me but sent them some cola nuts later through a friend.


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