“Be quiet… or Death will come for my child!”

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For this post, I wanted to share a story from my time in The Gambia. This is a story about a superstition that many Gambian women have. I felt that this would be a good way to tell about an interesting cultural difference. While at the same time going along well with Halloween coming up. This is a story about Death.

I was visiting another Peace Corps volunteer in her village. This was my first time visiting her, so she showed me around and introduced me to her host family as well as some other friends she had made. She introduced me to a girl who went to the school she worked at. Though unfortunately, I cannot remember her name, as I’ve met a lot of people during my tenure in The Gambia. But I remember that she spoke English very well.

She also had a little brother, who was playing with some of the animals in the compound. I told her that he was a handsome little dude. After telling her that she got a rather ghastly look on her face and snapped at me saying, “no no no, he’s ugly!”. I was taken aback and thought that was pretty mean for her to say. But then I remembered something that I learned earlier in my service. And then I agreed with her by saying, “yep, you’re right, he’s ugly”. She smiled and nodded her head in approval.

Now it may seem bad that this girl would say such a thing about her little brother. As well as me having agreed with her. But I was simply just going along with a superstition that many Gambian women have. They believe that Death is an actual, conscious entity that lurks around. So if you were to say that a child is beautiful, then Death would hear you and become interested. And if Death came over and thought that the child was indeed beautiful, then he would take the child away. But if you were to say that a child was ugly, then Death would not care about the child and go somewhere else.

I found this cultural difference to be quite intriguing. If I were to say such a thing about a child while at home in the United States then I would probably get slapped in the face! But in The Gambia, there are many women who would probably laugh out loud if you were to say that their child was ugly. All for the sake of trying to keep Death at bay.

I hope you enjoyed this post and learning about this interesting cultural difference. As always feel free to share this post if you liked it. Thank you for visiting my blog, have a great day!

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