Sunday, April 11, 2010

Team Anasara Don't Mess with Texas

Once upon a time, almost three years ago, a group of students touched down in Niamey, Niger to study abroad...

On our first night on the continent we were jet-lagged, confused, overwhelmed and overheated...but excited!
Yazi Dogo, the most famous actor in Niger, "baptized" us (in a ceremony involving dates and kola nuts) with Nigerien names: Waikwari, Yakalu, Ladidi, Amina, Tambara, Andi, Allé , Nassara, Aishe, Saraki, Rahina, and Malama (that's me!). 

We didn't need American names - Nigeriens tongues couldn't pronounce them. We really didn't need last names either - there were only 12 of us. So our new names became our Nigerien identities, we adopted new personae for our new experience.
And these names were no joke - we really used them. Even late into the semester we would sometimes have to ask eachother, Wait, what's your real name again???

And this weekend, Team Anasara struck again!

("Anasara" means "white person" and is what people constantly called out to us in Niger. It's not a racist thing, just a fact and a way to get our attention:
Anasara! Anasara! Fofo! Ca va? How-are-you-I-am-fine! Donne-moi un cadeau! Cinquante francs?)

We still use our Nigerien names with each other, so basically we're the most exotic-sounding bunch of white girls around!

We reconvened for the first time since our abroad ended in December '07 to celebrate the wedding of one of our own. This was especially fantastic because we were all there when Aishe and Kelley first met, out on the "town" in Niamey.

Places I never thought I'd be? Huntsville, Texas, attending the wedding of my friend who lives in Niger. But there I was...

The wedding was beautiful, Aishe was beautiful - I'm so happy she found Kelley, an ex-Peace Corps Texan Africanist - i.e. basically her perfect match.

I guess I'm at that notorious age when friends start getting married. Aishe's wedding was my first, and it was fun. Fun because we were all sharing in her special day, but also fun because Team Anasara has the most wonderful habit of bringing the party. If there's music, Tambara will lead the charge to the dance floor, with me close behind. And Saturday night there was music, and there was dancing! (Tambara has actual skills, I just dance with enthusiasm.) 

And after the wedding, we hit up the Stardust Bar in Huntsville, so that was *unique.* And yes, those are Texas acrylics...I know, you're jealous.

So I return to DC with a sunburn and a great weekend under my belt. I forgot how much I missed my Nigerien identity - being called Malama and forgetting about Mollie for a weekend. 

Team Anasara has decided that we need to do this whole get-together-and-catch-up thing more we're going to start a group blog and make that happen! Next location...who knows!