Monday, December 18, 2006

National Day celebrations continues at the race track

In the afternoon, we headed out to the race track where there would be a big show with lots of horses and camels. Camel and donkey races were also on the schedule, although in the end, there was no time left to organize them. A pity, because I have yet to see my first camel race in Zinder! Somehow I always tend to miss it; but on the other hand, this particular afternoon was filled with so much program that by the end of the day you just could not desire more...

The opening ceremony was grand and adventurous for many, as most people in Niger have never seen soldiers drop from the sky before...

Two more tribunes had been built to accommodate the president's entourage and security was high.The crowd was huge, and at first it looked as if we would not be able to see anything else but the camel riders on top of their huge animals... Eventually, Sofia and I made a move and decided to walk into the crowd and see if we could see some of the action...

Just like this morning, we were lucky! A soldier saw my camera and invited us out of the crowd. "You can stay here," he said, pointing at a spot several meters in front of the crowd. Of course, Sofia followed close by and we got a great view. From then on, the sport was to A) stay ahead of the crowd (that wanted to follow us), B) look very important when new soliders appeared so that they would not order us back into the crowd and C) gain more ground so that we would be able to take even better pictures! Oh it was a fun afternoon!

The camels were the first ones out, soon followed by horses... It was hard to film because of all the dust and the sunlight, but it was a fun challenge and we no longer had a crowd in front of us!

A griyo appeared from nowhere and starting screaming into his speaker about the nasara (white person) and whether or not she would be giving him money or not. I was thrilled that every one (including the president) could hear about it - not! and so I shook his hand amically and congratulated him, which set him off. Normally, the griyos come up to you and start to sing songs about how generous you are. It's all meant so that you'll give them money. If you don't, they quickly start singing about how ungenerous you are, so it's a loose-loose situation. I was lucky, because an old friend of mine was part of the show, and as spotted each other, the griyo lost his interest. After parting from Zouera (my friend), Sofia and I went back to "work"!

And then, just like that, everything was over and the riders rode away from the sunset...

And Sofia and I met some friends from the track!

Oh, I forgot to tell you, but we were in "uniform", and so we had a few people come up and ask us if they could please take a picture of us (both with and without). Europeans with an African touch ("uniform" means wearing clothes of the same tissue - a sign of belonging to the same family or being very tight friends), not an all too common sight in this part of the world...

Ishtar

2 comments:

Szavanna said...

Hi there - great post for the carnival - thanks for all the fantastic photos.

Africanloft said...

Haa! Those are amazing pictures! I'm jealous, may I steal some? :)