I had dinner with Ibrahim, Hadiza and their son Samuel yesterday evening. Ibrahim is the president of the education committee and the permanent secretary of the EERN (the denomination the Remember Niger Coalition partners with). Ibrahim and Hadiza, who are around my age, live in Maradi. They were two of the first people I met when I arrived in Niger in 2005. At that time, they lived in Niamey (the capital). Ibrahim took it upon himself to help me settle in Niger, which included traipsing all over Niamey in order to take care of the paperwork necessary to live there. I have fond memories of being “stuffed” in taxis with hot air blowing on my face while we went from one government building to the next. I remember one time getting into a taxi that was already full of people (that’s the norm in Niger). I sat next to a man who had fries covered with sauce in his lap. To me, it looked like a mess. He graciously asked me if I wanted some of his food. I declined. In Niger, it’s not polite to eat in front of someone without offering some of your food.
Last night, the food we ate looked a lot more appetizing! Hadiza is a wonderful cook. We had a traditional Nigerien meal, which began with a fruit salad as an appetizer. Actually, I’m not certain that eating “fruit salad” is a Nigerien tradition, but the mix of papaya, pineapple and banana was really good! In Niger, a typical dinner consists of a tomato sauce over couscous, rice or pasta. Our sauce had chicken in it and was served over couscous.