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Zach: “ndànk ndànk moy jap golo ci ñay”

January 27, 2009

This Wolof proverb, translated literally, means “little by little one catches the monkey in the bush.” Translated less literally, the essence of the proverb remains and reminds one that things take time.

Last night, since we didn’t have any classes this morning, my housemate decided that he was going to stay out late and explore the city with a girl in the MSID program and her Senegalese brother. As I got ready for bed rather than heading out (it was after 11), I asked myself if I was getting to most out of my experience here in Dakar. I haven’t really seen much of the city yet. I’ve gone out at night only once to a jazz club called Just4U (the musicians were extremely talented, especially the guitarist), and most of the time I’m at home, either talking to Khadim and Diama and their friends or helping Daba with her English homework (she is also helping me learn Wolof). Even the program staff seems to assume that the students go out a lot; they warned that going out unannounced could create tensions with our host families.

Anyway, I came across two different questions: (1) what Senegal did I actually come here to experience, and (2) am I just getting ahead of myself? I suppose I’m not really a big fan of night life, and I like to sleep at night to enjoy the day. With that in mind, I feel that, though I haven’t even gone out to explore the markets yet, I am experiencing the Dakar I wanted to all along. I’m meeting real people, and living as close to a real Senegalese life as an American college student can get. I take showers with a bucket so that the water isn’t frigid, I can wash my clothes by hand, and I am slowly working my way into the kitchen. As for the second question, there exists another Wolof proverb which states “lu nit di donn daf ca séntu njeriñ,” which, roughly translated, means that if you exert yourself for something then you expect to gain from it. One does not undertake tasks or activities without a good reason. Additionally, the Wolof response during greetings is “maangi fi” or “maangi fi rekk”, which means “I am here only.” My brother Khadim has told me that I shouldn’t even try to buy clothes at the HLM market until a couple weeks from now, when my Wolof is sufficient for bartering.

Life may be slow at the moment, but I am extremely happy and trying to suppress my fidgety side. I have many adventures ahead of me, including HLM, the pilgrimage to Touba with Diama, and a possible trip to St. Louis, and the whole internship living with a marabout thing. For now I’m just going to keep relaxing and enjoying being here only.

Ba beneen yoon,
Zach

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