Rhythmic Transitions

Jahshana Olivierre - Senegal


March 27, 2014

This piece was written in October at the beginning of my time here in Senegal.

Rhythmic Transitions

Takk tikki Takk takk
the beating of our drums signified this important moment in time
Takk takk tak tikki takk takk
with each tap,
our souls escaped and found itself interconnecting
becoming one – dancing to the smooth melodic flow of a universal language.

Into these drums,
we beat fear,
we beat hope
we beat excitement..
we beat anger,
we beat insecurity
We beat reassurance

Some of us in tune with the wave length of this language
others fine tuning,
Rhythmic transitions,
seemingly daunting yet compelling,
With each transition we fine tune, our emotions heighten
we attach and detach
detach then re attach
carrying lessons from the last rhythmic pattern into a new one
the melody of each new transition fill our emptiness
awaken our passion, allow us to synchronize – to ascend.

It has been a little over a month since I set foot in Senegal. I never would have thought I’d face so many little challenges, realizations, revelations, and TRANSITIONS in just a month. Nonetheless, it has been beautiful. It’s been beautiful to see my heart wide open and my spirit vulnerable, it’s been beautiful witnessing how I’ve handled each transition and who I am when I am pulled out of my comfort zone. Each unfolding day possesses the elements of ambiguity and adventure. Although it has been overwhelming to continuously adapt, adjust and be comfortable with being uncomfortable; the ambiguity of each new day is a breath of fresh air in comparison to the monotonous life I led back home. My values, assumptions, character, and perspective are being questioned daily.

Sunday October 6th, 2013 , I said good bye to Dakar and moved to the town that I’ll be spending the next six months in – Kebemer, Louga. I left Dakar with peace knowing that I took from the experience what I needed to. I was finally ready.

Honestly, gaining such peace did not come easy. Life in Dakar, albeit beautiful, was hard. Initially, my spirit was already unsettled because of the many transitions I’ve faced – travelling from New York to Redwoods,California Redwoods, California to Stanford University, Stanford to Casamara Hotel in Dakar, Casamara to my first host family in the neighborhood Mermoz. It was a constant cycle of attaching and detaching emotional investment and drainage. I struggled to find my voice amidst familiarity and unfamiliarity whilst dealing with the on the surface factors of my new environment such as the relentless heat, my frequent malaise, and the two week water outage.
My ultimate break down and break through came when we were scheduled to leave Dakar for a week to visit our respective sites.

Monday September 16th, 2013, My team leader Oumou dropped me off in the desolate unfamiliar town of Kebemer, everything hit me. I was distraught. I finally realized what I was getting myself into. I was spending the next six months alone in this foreign weird place. I probably cried that entire day, I felt so alone. I’d grown used to life in Dakar – the Western comforts, hanging with friends , the family I grew close to, the comfort of my neighborhood, the comfort of a bed, the comfort of belonging. And yet again I was thrown into another new environment I had to readjust to. That week was definitely the longest week of my life but the endless days gave me an opportunity to settle my spirit, dissect my thoughts, feelings, and intentions. More importantly, it allowed me to see the value of Kebemer. Focusing on leaving Dakar behind and all the negative aspects of my new site made me blind to the little gems Kebemer possessed. For one, I was surrounded by love, my njabott (family) is the most compassionate set of people I have ever met. I noticed family life and collectivity is everyone’s main priority .

I returned to Dakar having fostered the place where my seed of peace would muster. My last Djembe (drumming) class helped me put my experiences in the past month into perspective – weird , I know.

As I drum following my instructor’s lead, he throws a variety of rhythms for us to mimic then smoothly transition into – a mixture of emotions are stirred up when presented with a new rhythm to mimic, we’re intimidated by this new rhythm, excited for the challenge yet reluctant to part from the old rhythm we finally got the hang of. Albeit our fears, we jump for the challenge and soon are in tune with the melodic flow.

Jahshana Olivierre