Nearly been a month in Dakar?! Woops. I seem to have an aversion to writing updates; I don’t know how to filter or articulate the things that occur to me in the quotidienne particulars. I’m trying not to just list things for every blog post.
Of the ten or so people who live in my house, my host sister Amayel is the one I’m closest to. She got married last Thursday! It was nothing like I imagined. J In fact, the groom was/is still out of country—and I don’t know when they will see each other again. He is a footballer in China apparently.
From what I have gathered, the ceremony performed last Thursday was the official/legal sort of transaction between the two families and the Imam. In Senegalese culture, a wedding is traditionally not so much about the couple, but rather about the joining of two families/communities. In this way, I think the wedding was pretty traditional. Some of the groom’s family spent the day at the house, eating a typical dinner with us. Most of the adults were wearing fancier dress (typical dress is always nice), but the younger girls and even my host mother, were wearing normal clothing. There is a reception on the 11th, which I am invited to—I’m really excited to go out dancing with everyone! It sounds like it’s going to be mostly friends and then family for more of a communal celebration. Amayel said she doesn’t want ‘beaucoup de monde’ there—so I’m not sure how much of an affair it will be, but I’ll probably post about it J.
Manifestations: “no ko bokk”
Some of you may have caught a glimpse of news about the politics in Dakar because the situation has intensified as the presidential elections arrive (Feb. 26). Last weekend the Conseil Constitutionel ruled that the current president can constitutionally run for a third term, while several other candidates (like Youssou N’dour) were deemed illegitimate. While the president was enthusiastically voted into office, that was some 12 yrs ago, and he is now 86.
Some of our classes have been canceled due to “manifestations” in a couple quarters of the city. Thus far, any activity beyond striking (pretty common, especially in education) has been contained to a few areas—and in the afternoon. There were two deaths recently as a part of the demonstrating, one of which was a respected student and teacher. This occurred on the 31st of January, which is also the anniversary of a different student’s death that is celebrated annually at the University. So, as is the way, the situation is complex. One of the Marabouts (religious leaders) made a plea for manifestations to come to a halt until after the elections (? after something, I could be wrong about it being elections). I heard that he also called for the current president to withdraw from the elections. If this is true, and if any other Marabouts add similar pleas, their influence is great enough that the President will have no choice but to withdraw if he wishes to maintain any public support. It’s an uncertain time, but also an important one. I feel safe as the Center is keeping us well informed, and it is a privilege to be here at an important moment like this.
I have great respect for the Senegalese tradition of being politically involved; “no ko book” is the response when someone says “thank you,”—it translates literally to, “we share it.” When I was talking to my friend at the Superette, I expressed a bit of concern/uncertainty about the manifestations. His response was pretty simple and along the lines of, “This is democracy, if people are unhappy, then they have to show/express it.” I’m looking forward to watching how the people act in this time given the global, political environment.
I’ve just slowly been realizing that I’m intentionally engaging and learning two languages everyday. I have workable French; it’s also extremely flawed. Since we’ve finally had all of our classes this week, I’ve been exposed to much more French (the friendly, familiar academic kind hahahahaha), and the last two days I’ve been feeling the French come easier.
Which is great.
Buuuut, it’s become frustrating the last few days when a question is posed in Wolof and my mind can’t move beyond the French response. And so then, today when Angeline and I were greeting one of our friends (an unofficial ‘professor’ of Wolof J), he had some phrases for us. He tossed a new-new one out there, and as he looked at us for comprehension, I instinctively blurted out the rough equivalent in English. I felt pretty foolish as he looked at me with now a genuinely confused face. Haaaaaaaaaa MAN. We’re just trying to communicate, right?
At the same time, it’s upsetting (British sense) when my host brother Lamine greets me in English (he has lived in the States). My mind rotates between the three languages at the Center—but at home it’s mostly French, and then some intense, but not truly focused (yet), listening to Wolof. Speaking English at home is uncomfortable, and it feels more limiting to speak in English. Perhaps that’s because I must think in other languages at home. It’s like an illegal break (to my now totally boggled mind). Also, Wolof was not originally a written language, so there are different ways to transcribe it. ie: “ceebu jënn” = “Thiebou Djienne”
And the cherry? Yesterday, I was telling Angeline about how “I was trying to saying something in Nepali….” Hahahahahahahaa (no, I wasn’t, but I said that I was). The subconscious levels my mind was working on to pull that one up…what’s that, seven years past now?
“Randomly Important Words”:
We have a variety of sweet dinners on Sundays—always lait caillé, TONS of sugar (in everything), and sweet n condensed milk + millet, rice, or a relative. DELISH.
We go home for lunch everyday, it’s the main meal of the day.
Senegal has a population of ~13 million. Dakar and surrounding suburbs are +3 milllion of that.
Tey, dinaa jënd ndox.
Toilet paper is overrated.
Breakfast is underrated.