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A Groit family celebrates Tabaski in Dakar

A musician and his traditional guitar. Dakar, Senegal-January 2015
A Groit family celebrates Tabaski in Dakar

Tabaski is an Islamic festival celebrated in West Africa. Each family that can afford to slaughters a ram to commemorate Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice Ishmael—his son—on Gods command as described in the Koran. At the last moment God prevents the sacrifice (the Koran’s version of this differs slightly to that of the Hebrew Bible).

A young dancer. Dakar, Senegal-January 2015

After the sacrifice the animal is butchered divided and eaten, some meat is shared with the poor and the various body parts used for different purposes, vocal cords are used  as talismans of good fortune,  skins are used for drums, nothing is wasted. Over three million animals are slaughtered on the day of Tabaski.

A devotional singer. Dakar, Senegal-January 2015

The Groit are a caste of West African storytellers, praise singers, musicians, poets and artists. I was kindly invited to celebrate Tabaski with a Groit family in Dakar, Senegal. After the sacrifice stories were sung and told and music and dancing ensued. Then we visited the tombs of the Griot ancestors which rest in the majestic Baobab trees outside the city.

Tea is poured. Dakar, Senegal-January 2015
Playing the talking drum. Dakar, Senegal-January 2015
The sweat of the sabar player. Senegal-January 2015
The artist from the kingdom of the blind. Dakar, Senegal-January 2015
A story is told.
The kora player. Dakar, Senegal-January 2015
The next generation of Griot. Dakar, Senegal-January 2015

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Ken Kavanagh

1970, I am a freelance professional graphic designer and amateur photographer currently living a nomadic lifestyle.

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