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Tabaski Festival in Bamako, Mali


Pierre-Yves Brunaud

Tabaski (*) is the biggest and most popular religious festival in Mali, where the population is largely Muslim. On the days preceding the festival, the whole country is absorbed in preparations, while awaiting the exact date to be fixed on the lunar calendar. Every father in every family must buy a sheep, to celebrate the sacrifice of Abraham, as well as new clothes for his family, so as to be presentable in the eyes of God on this festive occasion. The children, in particular, are thus equipped with new clothing at least once a year. Sheep invade the cities, there are fairgrounds on the road sides and traffic jams along all the boulevards. The entire population of the city is out in the streets and money circulates frenetically. The street stalls hum until late at night, newspapers advertise sheep and all the discussions of fathers are about the animals' price or their state of health, in the buses or the queues at the bank where the men go to take out loans to cover their expenses. When the great day arrives, the men go to pray early in the morning with the young boys in their heavy 'boubous', as do the old women with their feet dyed with henna. After the ceremony, people wish each other a happy new year 'sembé sembé' and ask each other for forgiveness for any past offences, as this is also the day of pardon. Then the men slaughter the sheep that was cleaned at sunrise, while the women prepare the rice and sweet drinks. The children eat first, then serve the meat dishes that the families offer to one another according to bonds of friendship, neighbourliness or alliance. This provides an opportunity to donate to poor families, but also to spread wealth throughout the community. (*) Tabaski, more commonly known as the 'Festival of Sacrifice', is defined in the Koran as a festival that takes place during the pilgrimage to Mecca. The date for the Tabaski Festival depends on the lunar calendar and is known one week in advance, according to a decision taken by a national commission. Religious festivals in the Muslim world of Western Africa, unlike elsewhere, are known by their names in Wolof - this is the case for Tabaski, which is also called 'Aïd El Kebir' in North African countries.


 

Pierre-Yves Brunaud / Picturetank BRP0033395

Bamako, Mali. It is now one week before the festivities for the Tabaski Festival (Festival of Sacrifice) and preparations are well under way. Depending on the style that they've chosen, girls can spend 2 to 5 days in the hands of expert plaiters, hoping to become the belles of their suburb.

Bamako, Mali - 01/01/2005

 

Pierre-Yves Brunaud / Picturetank BRP0033396

Les femmes redoublent de stratagèmes pour s'attirer les faveurs des hommes. Tous les prétextes sont bons pour se donner les moyens d'être belles, et pouvoir s'offrir un nouveau boubou, des bijoux, une belle coiffure avant la fête de Tabaski.

Bamako - Mali - Afrique, Mali - 00/01/2005

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Pierre-Yves Brunaud / Picturetank BRP0033397

Hairdressing salon in a street in Bamako.

Bamako, Mali - 01/01/2005

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Pierre-Yves Brunaud / Picturetank BRP0033398

In Lafiabougou, at one of the biggest agricultural fairs in Bamako, Peul, a shepherd proudly displays one of the animals in his herd, in the hopes of gaining the best price.

Bamako, Mali - 01/01/2005

 

Pierre-Yves Brunaud / Picturetank BRP0033399

From the end of December, many shepherds, often accompanied by one or more parents, travel several hundreds of kilometres on foot with their herds to sell them in the big markets of the big cities.

Bamako, Mali - 01/01/2005

 

Pierre-Yves Brunaud / Picturetank BRP0033401

Le cours du mouton varie beaucoup en fonction de l'offre et de la demande pendant les jours qui précèdent la fête de Tabaski : Un mouton de taille moyenne coûte entre 50 000 et 150 000 Fcfa (500-1500FF), une fortune pour chaque chef de famille.

Bamako - Mali - Afrique, Mali - 00/01/2005

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Pierre-Yves Brunaud / Picturetank BRP0033402

Les bêtes sont choisies surtout en fonction de leur taille et de leur poids. mais les bergers portent aussi un soin particulier à la propreté du poil, et plus généralement à tout ce qui est susceptible d'attirer le client. La concurrence est rude.

Bamako - Mali - Afrique, Mali - 00/01/2005

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Pierre-Yves Brunaud / Picturetank BRP0033403

Once the negotiations are over, each head of the family takes his sheep home by any means possible on a shoestring budget... Sheep are everywhere: on foot, on the roof of sotramas (public transport) or in the boots of cars or taxis.

Bamako, Mali - 01/01/2005

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Pierre-Yves Brunaud / Picturetank BRP0033404

The sheep are living their final hours at the entrance of the enclosure. An ideal place to proudly show your family's wealth to your neighbours, depending on the number and size of your animals.

Bamako, Mali - 01/01/2005

 

Pierre-Yves Brunaud / Picturetank BRP0033425

The fabrication of boubous and basins is the other lucrative economic activity of the festival.

Bamako, Mali - 01/01/2005

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Pierre-Yves Brunaud / Picturetank BRP0033405

Waiting. Since dressmakers' lists of orders are often overloaded during the festive period, clients wait and oversee the work, making sure that their clothing, specially designed for Tabaski, will be ready in time for the celebrations.

Bamako, Mali - 01/01/2005

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Pierre-Yves Brunaud / Picturetank BRP0033406

All-nighters. Dressmakers often work day and night during the week preceding Tabaski, to be sure to honour their clients' numerous orders.

Bamako, Mali - 01/01/2005

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Nocturnal hairdressing salon: it is 2:00 am in Bamako.

Bamako, Mali - 01/01/2005

 

Pierre-Yves Brunaud / Picturetank BRP0033408

Tabaski starts in several hours and women are still touching up their hair right up until the last moment.

Bamako, Mali - 01/01/2005

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Dressed in their best clothes, children go to morning prayers.

Bamako, Mali - 01/01/2005

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Pierre-Yves Brunaud / Picturetank BRP0033410

The mosques are so full on the day of Tabaski that many believers assemble in the street for the traditional prayers.

Bamako, Mali - 01/01/2005

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Pierre-Yves Brunaud / Picturetank BRP0033411

Un trou est creusé pour recueillir le sang du mouton que l'on va égorger.

Bamako - Mali - Afrique, Mali - 00/01/2005

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Pierre-Yves Brunaud / Picturetank BRP0033412

Traditionally, it is the Imam of the area who does the rounds of the concessions to sacrifice the sheep bought by the heads of the families.

Bamako, Mali - 01/01/2005

 

Pierre-Yves Brunaud / Picturetank BRP0033413

Meal preparation. All day, the women religiously prepare the various dishes that will accompany the mutton, each piece is prepared according to a particular recipe and cooking time.

Bamako, Mali - 01/01/2005

 

Pierre-Yves Brunaud / Picturetank BRP0033414

Pour une fois, les hommes participent à la préparation des repas le jour de Tabaski, notamment pour découper les abats du mouton et raser ses peaux qui seront récupérées.

Bamako - Mali - Afrique, Mali - 00/01/2005

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Pierre-Yves Brunaud / Picturetank BRP0033415

Les jeunes musiciens du quartier font le tour des concessions voisines pour souhaiter la bonne année, à l'image des griots traditionnels qui sont associés à chaque fête familiale importante (baptêmes, mariages, enterrements...)

Bamako - Mali - Afrique, Mali - 00/01/2005

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Pierre-Yves Brunaud / Picturetank BRP0033416

Musicians come to dance and praise the family living in the concession they've come to visit. For them, it's a way of making money, which raises the budget that the head of the family must allow for the festival.

Bamako, Mali - 01/01/2005

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A father with two of his children.

Bamako, Mali - 01/01/2005

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A mother and her child.

Bamako, Mali - 01/01/2005

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It's now the end of the day and the family obligations are over. Mahamadou Keita is a young Malian from Bamako. His friends nickname him 'Eminem', as he is a fan of American rap music.

Bamako, Mali - 01/01/2005

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It's now the end of the day and the family obligations are over.

Bamako, Mali - 01/01/2005

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Old Konaté. The doyen of a concession, with his trusty transistor radio.

Bamako, Mali - 01/01/2005

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Pierre-Yves Brunaud / Picturetank BRP0033418

The elders conclude the family day. Men on one side, women on the other.

Bamako, Mali - 01/01/2005

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Pierre-Yves Brunaud / Picturetank BRP0033419

Men on one side, women on the other. Here, three women had their dresses made in the same fabric in order to save some money.

Bamako, Mali - 01/01/2005

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Pierre-Yves Brunaud / Picturetank BRP0033417

At nightfall, young people are finally freed of their family obligations. They get together with a few drinks and a cassette player which blasts out rap music in the street.

Bamako, Mali - 01/01/2005

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