The ‘Girl’ Effect

Alison Rivera - Senegal

October 26, 2012

I met this one girl in Dakar. She was cool; she took me out dancing one night. Brazen would not describe her but the slang word “sassy” will.  Her false name is going to be Alpha; not exactly a pseudonym since the name perfectly describes her. Catholic, Senegalese, single mother were my very first impressions. Tight dresses, hair extensions, and high heels summed up her typical appearance. Next to her, GCY’s packing list made me look like a nun. She had the kind of personality that made superiority insecure. With her sassy attitude, Wolof back talk, and aggressive gestures, she even bossed the boys around. Constantly demanding things like a cell phone and a cigarette. Declaring her own authority, she did whatever she wanted to do whenever she felt like it. When the sun goes down, Alpha goes out; when the sun rises, she returns home. It was quite amusing because her attitude reminded me of home.

After Dakar,  I met another girl in my new site (Bambilor). I do not know her as well as I know Alpha. She was different; she was on the other side of the spectrum. She talked about the weather a lot … “dafa tang” she will always say as she passed me the oupakaay with her right hand, which was generous of her. It showed her manners. After I nodded in agreement to  the comment about the weather, she will talk about cooking and braiding hair. Never mentioned a night club or a party like the girls in Dakar, who took weekend trips to private islands. She was home a lot; you could tell by the TV refelection on the glass window. “Un Cafe Avec” was one of her shows. Flipping through channels as she chatted with her three friends, who were also females. They were the three house maids. All four looked about the same age. A 12 year old boy had more freedom than they did; I often saw her younger brother riding the back of a car rapide with one hand only. I do not know if language created the social barrier that existed between me and her. Maybe it is because her world is so different from mine. Watching her made me frustrated. It is like she does not know the confinement that she is in. But again maybe she is strong enough to ignore it. Not screaming or complaining but dealing with it because she has grown used to it.  I can learn a couple of things from her.

The two girls are the complete opposite; it is as if one represents feminist revolution gone too far and the other shows obedient acceptance. You can see when culture is present and where it is missing. What is better too much culture or too little?

Alison Rivera