By Famara Fofana
No one in our shores is oblivious of the feel-good factor that comes with a sacrificial ram. It puts
smiles on the faces of children. It makes wives radiate with pride- that their own Afang too could
do it. The sight of an all-white, healthy-looking ram tied under an orange tree in the foreyard
days before the Muslim feast of Eid-al-Adha is as good as any pleasant news. You even
wonder whether these are not the same four-legged creatures we do tend to kick or knock with
our bikes and cars post- Tobaski.
Despite his paltry monthly take-home, Junkung had always wanted to get himself and family a
ram. In truth, he knew in his heart of hearts that a 10, 000-dalasicommodity was beyond his
means. But for a family man living amongst a handful of fairly endowed neighbours who had
their animals stationed in their verandah for few days, the 56-year-old cannot afford to be the
odd one out. He has every reason for wanting to punch above his weight.
“Baa, when ours is coming?” asked young Sally, his 8-year-old daughter who was taunted by
her play mates in their close-knit compound. While they were outside doing the padinyed (a
fun game played by kids in the street), they had teased her and her 4 other siblings that their
father Landing will be kind enough to share with them some meat should his father
fail to slaughter a ram. By their very nature, the kids meant no offence as they argued over
whose father’s ram is bigger.
Junkung too would have no ram worries if only his boy Jenung had made it across the
Mediterranean. Any chances of that were undone by a fatal ship wreck five years ago. To add
to his woe, he just overheard a neighbour’s wife Jalika remarking “Tubabudu is such a blessed
place. See how our Lamin in just a space of few days managed to western (wire home) D20, 000
for our two rams. We all knew from his infancy that my boy is destined for great things.”
Lost for words and feeling broken and mentally battered, Junkung, who had wanted to bath after
a tumultuous day all of a sudden forgot what he was about to do.Knowing it was getting late to
go out, he swapped the bathroom for his bedroom, brought out a calculator that almost got
infested with cobwebs. And Like some accounts clerk over the counter, he began to do some
math in keeping up with appearances. Without even realizing, he moaned and groaned and
cursed the 1 by 6 that means a cut in salaries for the next 6 for almost a half a year.
In his troubles, his wife Jonsoba maintained that in as much as Junkung wants to fulfill a scared
religious rite and in the process make his family happy, he must take solace in the fact that it is
Allah who gives and takes. “Besides, why should you sweat over a matter that is beyond your
purchasing power? Can’t you see that there is life after Tobaski? Remember times are hard
now and we will continue to eat,” reassured a woman who has proven to be such a dependable
plank of support to her hardworking pauper of a civil servant.
On the next day – the eve of the Eid – when the clock appears be ticking faster than normal for
Junkung, came the unexpected call. Amidst the pressure cooker, word was relayed to him that
there was a ram for him to pick at their gate. As to who the provider was, he had no idea. What
was certain is that the timely gift was no largesse from the well-to-do money-pinching
neighbours and friends with whom he shares the same faith and with whom the Imam preaches
the virtue of sharing and caring with the needy.
Nothing beats the pleasure of a timely surprise package and here was one that came out of the
blues from a wife who saves part of her Osusu money for dry spells like today.
PS- This piece was first published in 2019
Famara Fofana is a journalist and storyteller