Care for some Tea?

Samuel Parson - Senegal

September 12, 2011

…Let me fire some up for you.  So as you can see, the ways things go in Senegal do not go the same way as things in the US. If you didn’t know Senegal is a third-world country where our every-day conveniences like electric stove tops,  cars, and even toilet paper along with so many other things are rarely found outside of the country’s capital, Dakar. Over half of Senegal’s population still lives in rural conditions – 58% of the people to be exact. Some live rurally, even to the point of following tribalism by choice to hold onto cultural roots, but most are forced down by the world because they have no other means to live.

I’ve been in Dakar for a week now and really do believe my guides when they tell me that life in Dakar cannot be made as a prime example for how life is lived throughout the country as a whole. I trust this word because to me Dakar seems almost to be an example of a “catch-22”. The tremor-broken streets of Dakar are polluted with trash, and then crowded by nice three story houses along with broken down shacks. The streets are driven on by crazy drivers in Mercedes, as well as breaking down and barely running cars alike (which I believe all share the same death wish for the craze they drive with). Sidewalks beside the roads are then flocked by the less fortunate whose wages depend on their ability to beg, together with
suited business class working men and women.

Sounds pretty terrible right? Well on the surface maybe. Those in Dakar can be seen how the perceiver’s eyes choose, but in my first week I have already seen that these same people hold so much more. Though they do not hold much money in their hands, what they do hold are hearts of gold and love. The Senegalese here share everything! They all eat their meals around one big bowl or plate, the culture really does suggests the need to donate to those who must beg…the list goes on but the women also even share husbands! Crazy, huh? And I thought one girlfriend was juuust enough to handle!

So how is it that life in Dakar is a catch 22? Well the fact that the rich families who have enough security and humility to be living next door to poor who have next to nothing, says a lot about the value of personality all the Senegalese share. The way I see the poor here is that even though they may be stricken by poverty and without materials to possess, they still have more than a mountain of love to give to all within their own world. I’m sure that it’s the knowledge of how deep the roots grow that keeps the rich so anchored within their favorite harbor too, that takes wisdom. I may have come to Senegal with the great advantage of wealth and teaching, but here I’m learning to play to a new rhythm. The thing though is that it’s not any game I’m playing to, it’s the harmony and rhythm of Africa. So if I haven’t yet made it understood, I’m learning soo much about what I believe is most true to life here in Senegal.

So for this rhythm of Africa I shout, “Bravo!” and “Encore!” as each new week, and lesson, flies by.

Samuel Parson