Senegal 2010 - Day 4 (Holy Saturday)

On our way into town. You may notice that the tarmac here doesn't melt despite the hot temperatures. Why is it that in Britain it seems to start melting if if gets into the high 20sC?

Something that went down very well on our Togo trip in 2007 was each person choosing their particular design of cotton fabric from a local shop and then getting measured up by a local tailor who, together with his team of workers, made shirts and trousers for us. The suggestion went down very well with this year's group too. So on Holy Saturday morning we made the 15 min. walk into town to buy material and then get measured up. The only problem was that the day proved to be one of the hottest in Richard-Toll in recent years, reaching 44C (113F) in the shade and a fair bit hotter in the sun. On Thurs. we'll be picking up the clothing. Watch this space....

Very grateful for the shade. Simon showing off his "mozzie" bites.

Frère Jean-Yves wanted me to meet the parish priest before the Easter Vigil celebration in his parish that night. So I took the last 3 of the group to get measured up and walked on a couple of hundred yards to the church where Jean-Yves was waiting for us. After meeting the priest and his Nigerian (therefore English-speaking) curate, Jean-Yves took us around the back of the church to the shore of the Senegal River a matter of yards away, across which was Mauritania, which has a predominantly white Arab-African population (something I was unaware of) compared to the black African population of Senegal. Both have a high majority percentage of Muslims, though in Mauritania they tend to be more hard-line and there are almost no Christians, whereas in Richard-Toll, a town of about 120,000 people, the single Catholic parish at least manages to get about 400 people for Sunday Mass.

Frère Jean-Yves with Mauritania in the background.

On our way to lunch after getting measured up.

Back at base: watermelons we bought that morning in town. Heaven in a slice of fruit!!

Coming up to 4pm and it was still 41C in the shade!!!
Despite this, we still went out and had another game of footie with the locals from about 6pm till 7.15

The choir singing at the Easter Vigil celebration. About this celebration I will be brief, unlike the priest whose 45 min. homily and extra 15 mins. worth at the very end of Mass, extended what is already a long Mass by its very content to something approaching 3h30 mins. long, finishing therefore at about 1am in the morning!!

It must be said, however, that the music (choir, drums and other percussion, keyboard) was excellent, as was our "Lord I Lift Your Name On High" (with actions) that we treated them to after communion from the altar steps to rapturous applause.

The choir letting their hair down after Mass.

Frère Jean-Yves, church sound engineer and also responsible for transmitting a live relay of the Mass on a Muslim (yes, Muslim) radio station, one that can be picked up throughout most of Senegal + much of Mauritania. So our performance of "Lord I Lift Your Name" had quite an audience!

The Senegalese Muslim station is quite happy for the occasional Christian broadcast to use their airwaves. That is not to say that everything is hunky-dorey betweeen the 2 faiths here: young Christians are sometimes tempted away from Christianity and into Islam by hard-liners who promise of jobs, money, wives, houses, etc... in return for a conversion. And then when they do convert it's a big deal: celebratory banquet + much rejoicing. But still, things are better here than in many places and there are many mixed-faith famiilies that enjoy good internal relations.


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