So, I knitted this sweater for the new baby.
Big deal, you say. We all knit baby sweaters for our friends and relatives and colleagues, you say. It is just another opportunity to practice more of our favorite hobby, you say.
Yeah, but look at the invitation!
Kemoh, the proud papa, is one of Smokey's co-workers at the hospital. He and his wife are both from Liberia, and Kemoh is apparently a Big Man in the Twin Cities Liberian community. There is a Liberian community in the Twin Cities? Who knew? Not me…
A Liberian baby shower is not like the stereotypical American baby shower. Rather than a cute little afternoon get-together with games and cake and a bunch of women repeatedly saying, "Oh, cute!", it is a big, noisy, co-ed party to celebrate and welcome the new life. Kemoh had rented a hall and there were several hundred guests. Also please note that the party started at 9 pm and continued until 4 in the morning. Not that we were there until 4. We are too old for that stuff any more.
Kemoh had told Smokey that we might be the only white people there (we weren't), but that he would assign one of his friends with really good English to be our guide and explain the Liberian foods to us and translate anything that needs to be translated.
Kemoh was also a little surprised that we were coming at all. We say, What an experience! We wouldn't miss it for the world!
A little background: Smokey has helped Kemoh navigate the American system of commerce and save money a number of times — where to have his car fixed, where to buy the necessary parts at far less than he might have paid elsewhere, what camera to buy (thank you, Consumer Reports) and where to buy it (thank you, Amazon). Kemoh was appropriately grateful, but even more, had told his friends about Smokey's help. Said friends were curious to meet This Strange American who had helped their friend, and on occasion had helped them as well through Kemoh, but who had no interest in profiting from the transactions himself. Thus, the invitation. (Smokey said to tell you that if he is ever in the Third World he hopes someone there will help him find the best place to buy yams and mangos and fresh fish.)
* * * * *
And now, the photos from the actual event. (Many are blurry because I didn't want to use the flash — too intrusive. I think the blur enhances the festive feeling and shows how much movement and energy and excitement there was in that hall. That's my theory and I'm sticking to it.)
The shower was held in the gymnasium of a neighborhood community center. The decorations were lavish.
Besides the tables shown above, there was another table seating about 20 people, all fellow hospital employees and their dates, plus another 50 or so decorated chairs around two sides of the edge of the room, plus the head table.
There was a DJ, but he was blurry.
His speakers were very large and his amplifiers very powerful. The music was very, very loud. We are getting very, very old.
Kemoh and Smokey:*
After a large number of guests had arrived, there were Christian and Muslim prayers and the MC (yes, there was an MC) introduced those who would sit at the head table. After each person was named and described, the DJ would crank up the music and the honored guest would dance his or her way from the entry to the head table.
They were often joined by others to dance them across the floor. The women in the blue t-shirts were the ones who organized the shower and cooked the food and served it and who probably cleaned up afterward, but like I said, we are too old for 4 am so I didn't actually witness that part.
Kemoh and his wife at the head table.
The food and drink were unfamiliar to us but delicious.
Vimto is very fruity and very, very, very sweet. Malta is not sweet, and very, very, very odd to our American palates. Some of the foods were hot and spicy (yum!) and some were not, but all were things I would love to eat again. Especially that triangular meat pie at the top right of my plate. That was my favorite.
There was a circle dance celebrating the new father and mother.
Our favorite moment, when Kemoh *listened* to his son.
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That was the night of the ice storm that I told you about last week. Here is a photo taken on the freeway on our way home that night. I had plenty of time to take the photo, since we were moving at about 1 mph, max.
A school bus, apparently chartered by a men's group, had decided it wanted to be on a different but parallel freeway and attempted to cross the median. Didn't work; rear end got hung up. There were men wandering around the bus and looking confused. Duh.
* When I looked at the photos later on my computer, I found that I had captured some hijinks among the younger set. I cropped them out for the *official* portrait, above, but here is the original: