Tabaski Festival: Why I Saw So Many Sheep In West Africa

I just got back from West Africa (and hit a milestone with my 50th country visited) and I have a lot of stories to tell about my first trip on the continent (like adventurous bush taxi rides, overland border crossings, unsettling experiences, and more). But first I wanted to share that funny image of the sheep in the trunk of a taxi.

It’s definitely not something we’re used to seeing.

There were sheep everywhere during my 3 weeks in Senegal and The Gambia (not in Guinea-Bissau though, as the majority of the population is Christian).

Everywhere. I saw sheep in a trunk, on the roof, on a bus, on the roof of a bus, on the beach, tied to trees, in front of houses, etc.

I must have seen a thousand of them.

The reason?

Tabaski Festival. It’s the name given to the Eid al-Adha Muslim holiday in this part of the world. The “Feast of the Sacrifice” happens to be next week.

It is the most important celebration in Senegal, and an estimated 4 million sheep will be sacrificed across the country. Yes, you read that right: 4 million.

Yikes. That’s a lot of sheep.

The Senegalese Government apparently even has a program to provide every single family a sheep to slaughter during the festival. Shell gas stations, Western Union stores, and countless other businesses were advertising giveaways where you could win a sheep for Tabaski.

So that’s why there were so many sheep! It’s a great example of the cultural differences that exist around the world and the various local customs we are confronted with when we travel.

I had actually never even heard about this unusual celebration, although full disclosure: I have very little interest in anything religious personally (and that’s putting it mildly).

 

How about you? Did you know about this festival? Share it with us in the comments below!

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Andrew D'Amours

Andrew is the co-founder of Flytrippers. He is passionate about travelling the world but also, as a former management consultant, about the travel industry itself, he aims to help you save money on travel. As a very cost-conscious traveller, he loves finding deals and getting free travel thanks to Travel Hacking... to help him visit every country in the world (current count: 45/193 Countries, 46/50 US States & 9/10 Canadian Provinces).

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