Thursday, July 13, 2006

A Winyé Baptism for the Twins-----
I am STILL miserably packing, but not non-stop. I have had to go to the bank, pay bills, balance books and clear up things over at the paper and soap projects. I am SO looking forward to getting on that plane!
But I DO rather feel like posting something, so here’s some interesting stuff taken out of some of my e-mails in January. That was when we went out to one of the villages where JP does ethnographic fieldwork. Why? Well, that’s actually a very interesting question…read on.
BTW- Alexa is drinking dolo (millet beer) in the picture. She kind of likes it.

Taken from an email to Art on Jan. 30, 2006:
“On the 28 of this month, we will be out in one of JP's villages near Boromo. The diviners say that Alexa's health problems are linked to the fact that she is a twin and has not got a proper relationship with the hill spirits and they are unhappy. So, we are going to take the twins to Siby for a little ceremony. Some chickens will have to die.
They ( the twins, not the doomed chickens) will also receive bracelets that they will have to wear until they are grownup.
Let us hope they are attractive bracelets…….”

From subsequent email sent to some friends and family:
“We were only gone overnight, but it seemed like AGES! Guess time flies when you're having fun and we weren't having any. So time dragged on a bit.
Actually, the ceremony was a traditional "baptism" for the twins. The diviners say that Alexa has health problems because we never did this. She's the older twin, by their estimation, so the brunt of it falls on her. Most peoples here believe that the younger twin is born first, as he/she has been SENT OUT by the elder twin in order to verify that it is safe “outside”. Once the junior twin has given the “all clear”, the elder emerges. That’s why they believe the younger twin is born first.
Anyway, the hill fairies were especially mad that we didn't do it in a timely fashion, as the twins were born in the mountains of France and so are spiritually linked..
So, Saturday afternoon we drove out to Boromo. First, we had to smear honey on the tires so that fairies would not cause us to have an accident. The twins were concerned that the honey would stick the tires to the ground and we wouldn't be able to take off. Anyway, the fairies did not give us a hard time and we got to JP's little house in Boromo. He rents a place there to stay while he does field work. It's pretty basic, but there is electricity and running water. (Yipeee!) We had to wake up at 5 am the next day, buy fresh millet beer, two chickens and two guinea fowl and then be out at the village by 6 or so.
We were in place, goods in hand, by6:30, but they weren't ready. So we waited. And waited. Then waited some more. I had a nap in the truck. Finally at 9:30 they were ready to get on with it. We had to go into the's a tiny room full of REALLY strange stuff- pretty much crazy witch-doctor territory. I did manage to get one photo but it’s not very good. Mostly, I filmed with JP's video camera for research purposes. It's a private ceremony, so unless you have twins yourself, you'll probably never see it done. So, I filmed all the chanting, etc. Then Alexa had to grab one of the chicken by the legs and hand it over to the earth priest to be sacrificed. She was not thrilled, but did it. The twins hid their eyes in my lap during the actual killing and sprinkling of blood on the shrine. Then Mal had to hand over a chicken. Then Al handed over a guinea fowl, and Mallory did the same. (All poultry participants were eaten later by the villagers, with great relish). Then we got to leave the shrine for a little rest while they prepared the livers of the deceased fowl for sacrifice. (They have to be cooked). So, we hung out outside some more. A little girl took the twins down to the marketplace to have a look around and buy cakes, but the twins were so astonished by the huge audience they gathered that they turned back before they got there.
So we waited.
The livers were ready. We went back in and they were divided up and spread around.
Then back out again to wait while they mixed up our leftover honey with shea butter. We had to go back in and the earth priest spit the mixture all over the shrine! The girls and I were really...uh.....surprised. It was just darn good he didn't spit it on the girls! I would have got them out of there but fast!! We had to drink some of the mixture, too. It was nasty to taste, but would make a good skin cream.
Anyway, we went out again. The meal was served. The bowl of stewed chicken had the feet on top, as though it were an attractive garnish. The girls didn't eat any, as you may have guessed.
Finally, the priest presented them with their bronze bracelets and they got new names: Alexa is now Bwé (Rock) and Mallory is Kabou (River). The bracelets have a spiral design to represent turtles.

So, that’s today’s story. I thought a last good look at Africa was in order, as BurkinaMom in Africa is moving on to France tomorrow!!!

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