04 June 2006

Kids in Lower River Division

Ousman was/is one of Yusupha's host brothers from training. He's a very nice kid who waited in Kaiaf for two hours to take us down to Sare Samba. Alas he and his friends weren't among the best horsecart drivers, but we managed.

When Ousman was born (he's around 10 now), his mother called him Kumba, a girl's name, before his ngente/naming ceremony (which comes a week after birth). The usual placeholder name for Wolof boys is Samba but, as two of her previous babies had died as infants, Ousman's mom wanted to throw any malevolent forces off the scent. So Ousman is still called Kumba by a lot of people in Sare Samba, as this is not usual practice.

On my way back to Njau, I got a horsecard ride from Assan. On the way to Soma we picked up three "hitchhikers" - Maimuna, her mother, and her grandmother. Maimuna is in Grade 4 at a school farther along the path to Soma. It's a half hour walk each way, so it's a small victory that she has time, and is permitted, to go. I asked Maimuna where she would go after Grade 6, since the nearest upper basic school is about 8 kms (5 miles) away. Maimuna answered only "No," as continuing with school didn't seem to be an option. When we alighted in Soma, I appealed to her mom and gradmother to help Maimuna continue beyond Grade 6. I tried to encouraged enlightened self-interest (my usual tactic), but I'm not sure her guardians were anything besides bemused by my speech, delivered as it was in broken Wolof.

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