Easter – celebrating with cow dung!

Easter – celebrating with cow dung!

By Sr. Prisca Ovat MMM       Nigeria/ Kenya          11.04.2023

The Lord’s resurrection is the hope of our salvation. It is the reason we endure forty days of Lent, conscious living and being. It is also the reason that even the poorest make a meaningful celebration out of their status through creativity and invention. As young children, every celebration was accorded its dignity. Christmas was known to prepare the way for the big day-1st January. Easter was regarded with little attention and so eating fish was enough to mark the day. No one made a fuss over putting on old outfits. However, our understanding was this limited as a result of little or no proper catechesis. Today, no one can claim to be ignorant, not with the availability of social media and technology.

Being a missionary in East Africa offers me an extraordinary experience of something never seen or heard of. In my analysis, Christ’s resurrection must be the only reason for this inspiration and creativity. This year, preparations for Easter began early for most families with the desire to add a spark to the celebration. My curiosity encouraged me to patiently follow the process of that preparation. One thing unique about a group or culture is their ability to learn from each other. Whatever is good for one, very often appears good for the other. Little wonder the art of painting with cow dung became quite popular amongst the slum inhabitants. For the first time in my entire life, I received a detailed lecture on the advantages of cow dung! It was explained that several decades have gone by since people discovered that cow dung can be used to treat ringworms as an antifungal, it is equally used to cement the floor to wade off jiggers and nail painting.

Here comes the big one as hinted at above – cow dung for interior and exterior decoration. Traditionally, these wastes are known to provide manure and fuel for cooking but nothing like all the aforementioned merits. The process explained: some quantity of cow dung thoroughly mixed with ash is left to rest for a few minutes before painting begins. The wall is left to dry before the outcome becomes clear. It is fascinating to see that this is at no cost at all, and the only cost may be the silent endurance of the odour oozing from the waste product.

Poverty is not a barrier to greatness or happiness for a determined and resilient culture. It’s a thing of the mind. This Easter will be unique for me as it offers the opportunity to celebrate with one of these families.