On Assignment : nytimes.com

An Eid al-Adha Celebration in Kankan

"For two days in two vans over 400 miles, the New York-based photographer Mamadi Doumbouya traveled with his great-uncle, Mory Sanda Doumbouya, and 15 family members from the city of Conakry to their ancestral village near Kankan. There they celebrated Tabaski, also known as Eid al-Adha, a Muslim festival that takes place a couple of months after the end of Ramadan and pays tribute to Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac. Locals and visitors alike dress in traditional clothes, celebrate with dancers on the village roads and eat traditional foods. The head of the household sacrifices an animal; this summer, a slaughtered cow fed the Doumbouya family. Mamadi voyaged into his own past by making formal portraits of his relatives in the present. “Photographing my family was a bit of a challenge because it had been over 10 years since I last saw their faces,” he said. “I had to make sure to go to see some of the elders.” Mory Sanda Doumbouya, whose great-grandfather was one of the three brothers who owned the land that makes up his village, has been returning to the area since 1993. “I feel more connected with my family after these trips,” he says. “In the city, I am busy, my wives are busy, the children are busy with school, we hardly eat together. But coming here brings us closer to each other.” J.L."

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