This seems to be a recurring theme for me over the past couple of months. Two women who I know fairly well gave birth and I had no idea. TLC…I think this could be an excellent addition
The first one was is Directrice of Primary School B. She is a good-sized woman and there were no obvious signs that she was with child. I got back from all of my summer adventures to find out that she was going to be on vacation until January…I asked if she was ok and the other teacher told me that she was pregnant and was going to give birth any day now. She had the baby, her first girl, and is spending the rest of her vacation in Bobo with her husband who is doing surgical nurse training.
The second one is my community homologue’s wife. When I first came to Southfield, he was responsible for showing me around and helping me with my integration. At that time he had a two year old son. His wife was pregnant before I came while she was in CM2, had the baby, and then went on to 6e in the CEG (middle school). I had no idea that she was pregnant until yesterday when my homologue knocked on my door and asked me if I was going out of town. I said no, and he said that his family was having a baptism for his new baby. What? I had no idea that Safi was pregnant. I don’t go over to her house all the time or anything.
The reason why I had no idea is that Burkinabé women do not talk about their pregnancies. They don’t hold baby showers, they don’t gush about it all the time, and most CSPSs don’t have sonogram machines to show everyone what the baby looks like. I figure that it has to do with superstition. They don’t want to make a big deal about it if God forbid something goes horribly wrong. It’s a similar tradition found in Judaism. Typically Jewish women do not hold baby showers until after the baby is born because again, God forbid, if something happens to the baby, the mother is unfortunately left with all of this baby stuff in the house.
It was a double Muslim baptism with Safi’s baby, Ladifata and her sister in law’s baby, Abdoul-Aziz. It reminded me a lot of a Jewish naming ceremony. The Imams huddled around saying prayers and blessing the children with their new names. The thing I found a bit different was that the parents were not active participants in the ceremony. The babies were also not there with the Imams. I was expecting something involving both babies and both parents and the Imams directly blessing everyone. Oh well. It was a fun experience and the first Burkinabé baptism that I have witnessed. (All the other ones I could not attend for one reason or another).
A typical gift for a baptism is a ball or a bar of soap to help keep the baby clean. Sometimes people will give baby clothes or layettes. The ceremony finished with riz gros and zoom koom (sort of like Mexican horchata) with candy and dates to represent sweetness.
Vive la vie au village!