The Compound

The photo below was taken across the compound from Shannon's hut which you see in the background.  

The Pulaar word for "compound" is the same as "family" because a compound consists of  members of an extended family who live in a number of huts and buildings located around a central area where cooking and socializing takes place.  In Shannon's compound the family consisted of three elderly brothers and their four wives and numerous children and grandchildren until all three of the brothers died in recent years. The Village Chief, Amadou Daff, died in late 1999, right before Shannon arrived in the village.

The center of many compounds has a large Neem Tree like this one at the top of the photo below. It provides welcome shade in this hot desert area where temperatures are over 130 for several months a year. 

The woman in the photo that is sweeping the sand is Rekki, the Chief's wife (also his first cousin).  The children play in this central area of the compound, and people walk, sit, and cook here all the time, but there are also animals around the compound all the time, so it is swept daily.

Meals are cooked over a fire, and at the bottom of the photo you can see one of the four cooking areas in this compound that feed 20- 30 people. Shannon's village, Seno Palel, population 3000, is particularly large, so it has over 100 compounds much like this one.

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