At left, you see JP, his field assistant and the Earth Priest. They are all sitting and waiting, something we do LOTS of here, especially when visiting the village.
That Sunday morning in Nanou, we sat...And then we sat some more. Mallory passed the time admiring the fluffy, curled feathers of the ‘Neré’ chickens wandering around the compound. They looked like little cotton balls. You hardly ever see the breed in Ouaga and it is even rare to find them out in the villages. The Earth Priest had a few special animals he was raising because they are highly prized as birds for sacrifice to the spirits.
After about an hour, some other, non-fluffy, full grown birds were brought to the Earth Priest for inspection. I figured that they weren’t for our lunch, because our midday meal would not require the approval of a divine authority. It could only mean one thing: a sacrifice was going to be held!
I leaned over to JP, whispering urgently “What are those birds for? Please tell me we are NOT doing a sacrifice. Please.” Visions of our last ceremony of sacrifice in Nanou filled my head- first the killing of the two chickens, then the two guinea fowls, then the beer and honey libation. The comings and goings and sheer amount of time it all took had been astounding. We’d have to sleep in Boromo. I knew it. And I had stubbornly not packed our toothbrushes or any other overnight gear.
JP gave me that cute, innocent, ‘I’m just a humble ethnographer, trapped by circumstances beyond my control’ look that he is so good at.
“But I didn’t know either! Nobody mentioned it! Really!” he said earnestly- but I could tell he was secretly having a Fiesta of Happiness deep in his heart. Some new and complicated ceremony he could film and ask endless questions about! What bliss. For him, anyway.
I was less than happy about the extra time it would probably take, but was really quite touched that they were going to so much trouble. And I’ll admit that my next thought was: “This is all going to make one HECK of a blog post!”
What was really bad was the fact that the twins would have to cooperate, and they wouldn’t like it. The subject would have to be broached delicately. They had been pretty horrified at the ceremony two years ago, when they’d had to hand over the four avian victims for sacrifice. It would only be two unfortunates this time around, but I knew the girls would not be overjoyed at the prospect.
I told the girls that we’d have to go into the Earth Shrine for a small sacrifice. Tiny, really. At least it’s not sheep, or (gods forfend) a couple of goats! Right?
How bad could it be?