The Twelve Days of Segou

Madelaine Guss - Senegal


December 11, 2012

Of the various things that I packed that have proved to be comically useless, my Alarm clock is probably the most unnecessary item that made its way into my suitcase. The main reason for this is because each morning, before the sun rises, I am greeted with various other alarm clocks:

Every morning I am greated with a symphony of sounds and noises that echo throughout the village and cause every old man and baby to begin their day.

First comes the sound of at least 12 village woman, pounding corn, peanuts and grains. Outside my room there is a large gathering space with various wooden bowls and sticks where my host mother and her friends meet and talk.

Among their pounding, I can always hear 11 chickens, sounding a little less rhythmic and a little more obnoxious. The roosters scream morning calls way before morning; the chickens whine while searching for food and the chicks tweet happily as they follow their mothers around.

Laying somewhere hidden and cozy in the grass are 10 goats farting and making crying sounds that resemble almost uncannily the sound of the 9 babies somewhere crying.

Large animals are not the only ones who get to ring the alarm. Bugs really do their job as well with 8 crickets chirping endlessly hopping in and out of your room as they please. Hoping to catch these crickets for an early breakfast are 7 frogs jumping around and watching.

Hiding within the grass you can find 6 lizards hissing while fighting.

While outside has the majority of the sounds, inside my room there is always something going on. Inside my straw roof I can hear the faint sound of 5 mice whispering and running around.

On the ground I can hear at least 4 unidentifiable bugs running around.

Back outside I can make out at least 3 people already blasting Akon’s She Chop my Money from their cellphones as they make their way to their gardens, while 2 people greeting each other happily across their compounds.

Finally as the sun begins to rise the entire village is awoken to start their day with the 1 call to prayer sounding out from the local mosque.

Happy Holidays!

Madelaine Guss