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Sahara

Day 34: Dakar

Dakar, Senegal 
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All needs catered for on the streets of Dakar.
Michael Palin - SaharaI peer desperately through the window of our vehicle looking for the soul of Dakar, but all I can see is a 30-foot-high Coca-Cola bottle and a lot of sheep. Then we plunge down beneath a flyover and onto a thickly clogged four-lane highway leading to the centre of the city.

Six hours after leaving St-Louis, we're picking our way slowly through suburban neighbourhoods sporting parking meters, traffic lights, health clubs, even a cyber café, and more sheep.

I'm bewildered by all this ovine activity, until I learn that we are a week away from Tabaski, the day on which Muslims commemorate the story they share with Jews and Christians of Abraham being commanded by God to sacrifice his son Isaac, only to spare him at the last minute and allow a sheep to be substituted. At Tabaski the head of every Muslim household must kill a sheep and cook it for his family. The deed must be done personally and the sheep must be alive on Tabaski morning, so a frozen supermarket sheep will not do. Which must account for the enormous number of fluffy white creatures massed in the city of Dakar this afternoon. Wherever a few blades of grass can be found they're nibbling away - on traffic islands, motorway verges and football pitches. Jarga, a sheep-fattening product, is advertised on billboards, and a banner spread across the street proclaims 'Promotion Tabaski! Gagnez des Moutons!' - 'Win A Sheep!'
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Sahara
  • Day: 34
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  • Book page no: 110

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