Peace Only

Lucias Potter - Senegal


February 10, 2012

My experiences in Senegal have continued to enchant me to the point that I want to stay here forever. One thing that I have completely fallen in love with is the village I live in named Palmarin, Ngaloo.

When I first came to Senegal and I was in Dakar I had thought that it was the most peaceful place I would ever visit. When I moved to Palmarin, I immediately saw and appreciated the amount of peace. Not only were the people peaceful but the atmosphere was also peaceful. This is something that coming from Oakland I’ve never experienced. There are no cars, air pollution, tall buildings nor pavement. The streets are only sand and sea shells. There are no police departments nor is there a need for one. There are about ten streetlights in the entire village and they are spread out. This allows me to see the stars, the moon, the dark side of the moon, and the Milky Way. At night I go to sleep to the sound of the ocean crashing on to the shore. In short words it is perpendicular to the “concrete jungle” lifestyle that I was used to.

The majority of people in Palmarin are from the Serere ethnic group. Serere is also the name of the language they speak and I love it. Greeting people is very important in Senegalese Culture. When we greet we ask and respond the following:

Naa fiyo? (How are you doing?)

Mexe meen (I am here)

Jamm Soom (peace only)

Jamm rekk (peace only [wolof])

Na mbinaa? (How is you household?)

Oxe maa(they are there)

The greeting goes on to ask how your work, money and individual family members are doing. Apart from this being a beautiful language, this sense of community and keeping up with each other and their general situations gives the village a sense of security and adds to the level of peace.

The mentality of most people is as I had said earlier, Jamm Soom (peace only). Arguments in which one person is getting angry are rare but even when they occur it is quickly diffused because no one seems to feel right enough to continue arguing with a temper. The only time I hear aggression is when there is a debate about politics. They never argue about anything unimportant. I just finished reading an online post about how in America, a man lost his life because he accidently knocked a lollipop out of another man’s hand. I say this only to say that the general accepted notion is that developed countries go to Africa to “save” it. It seems to me that we need to be healed before we can heal others. Although many of us including myself came here eager to help people, I believe that the people here have done an even greater good to me than I have to them. It might just be that we need to be “saved” by the Senegalese Culture.

Lucias Potter