10 year old recollections.

I found this text on a website I made 10 years ago.  I’m surprised that the site was still available to be seen.  These are journal entries I made during my first trip to Senegal, West Africa in 1995.

Saturday 22, April

While taking a one-handed picture of myself and Susan, an Asian (Japanese?) man took my camera and squeezed off two shots.  All this was done while he cradled a 3-5 month old child in his arms.  Born to shoot.---------------Kennedy Airport

Thirty something thousand feet
All magazines en francais.
I thought I was in mother’s bosom’ cause the language was unfamiliar.
Vegetarian meal/ standard fare; steamed -veggies, salad, fruit, free wine. 
We were served first.
Movie, “Stargate” BAD!
Will I have enough batteries?
I’m wearing the H2 out.
I’m going to try and use the plane’s phone a little later.
There is no more movie to complain about.  Had an extra Baguette and Fromage.  Those that are not asleep are reading incomprehensible magazines in French.
Damn phone doesn’t work!
Flight is being shown on TV screen; 948 Km/h @ 10100m
1:36 left in the flight.
Dr. Finch , another brother, and I are the only brothers on the trip (Roger, a Morehouse student lost his passport somewhere).
There is an Africain, African-American summit in
Dakar while I’m here.  It’s the third one.
I still am really cool about the trip.  No nerves.  All nerves were spent packing.
@ 1:10 left in the flight, the second service is served. Vegetarians were omitted.
I like everyone.
There was nothing for me in the South Fulton Extra.
The last 20+ minutes of the flight was spent staring at the display anticipating descent.
3:00 am finally checked in the hotel w/ Leonard from New Mexico/twin beds, color TV, radio, standard room sans wall covering/ 423/ Room 216, Teranga/ Dakar/ Senegal/ West Africa.

----------{rewind] in the Yoff Airport I was told not to take pictures.
I was offered cocaine, pan-handled. We bribed the customs agent to forgo inspecting all luggage by giving him a T-shirt.

Sunday, 23 April

Continental breakfast is served 6:30-10:00.  Of course I woke up late but only w/Leonard’s urging at 9:15.  Coffee strong, Tea strong, pineapple, watermelon, baguette, melon, The apricot yogurt was very good.
I can see Goree’ from the hotel pool.
2:00 native dancers in pool area.  Made plans to purchase material for clothing(custom).
Nude, or should I say, topless sunbathing at the pool.
4:00 meeting w/group for remainder-of-day plans.
Buffet was 9,000 cfa.
Made plans @ 4:00 meeting for milk sacrifice ceremony in Rufisque, Coumba Lamba with Ma’am Fatou Seck
Dinner spaghetti Napolitana w/pomme frites & green beans, Coca-Cola 4,500 cfa
I will have spaghetti again.  It is very well within the budget
Left hotel ~8:30 going to Rufisque.
Met Ma’am Seck approx. 90 yr. old female in Rufisque.
Was given a name, “Ousmane Ndoye”.
Witnessed first day ceremony of Coumba Lamba
I took countless B/W, color pictures 3+ rolls all at night most w/flash
The ceremony was incredible.
Took pictures of Mamadiou ~25 yr. old male (I think he can’t write).
He speaks no English, but Wolof & French //BETTER THEN ME
We communicated even with the lack of language skills. 
There were countless, numerous people in the compound.
All were family.  Two girls are in “love” with me.
Oh yeah, it is now 0300 April, 24.
The “head” is a ceramic hole in the ground

I only had to squirt

I have pictures of the cooking area.  Where 3 square meals a day for 50+ people are prepared daily.
“Basuba Entsh’Allah” means, “ See you tomorrow if Allah’s willing”
Pictures, pictures, pictures.
Some pictures were not taken lawsuits could have arisen.
Everybody has a hustle.
Lamine, says that when I’m back he’ll give me a wife.
Rolls 2,3,4 & part of 5.
Took pictures of goat for sacrifice.
Tomorrow back in Rufisque. We’ll have the Traditional food du Senegal
Pauline almost fell into the drainage ditch.
Drums. Beats. Everywhere.
Mamadiou said when I send for him he’ll come to the US.
I might eat some fish, “when in Senegal...”
There will be money exchanged in the morning. I want to sleep late. I probably will.
Leonard gave me a roll of Fujicolor 100x36
We go to Goree’ Thursday.
All the bebes were being nursed in plain-view with breast not bottle.
There was one radio in the whole compound. Approx. 8-12 living areas. Compound area was sand.
We were given chairs.  Everyone else stood or sat on the ground or on mats.
I’m having great time.
I was interviewed for radio.
Dr. Finch’s mother heard that someone was spitting milk and water on her son. She wanted to know what that was all about.
When we left, they were still going strong.
Lamine wants an Olympus 35mm.
They like Techno music!
On the way to Rufisque, I saw a pedestrian overrun in the road “ highway of death”.

Monday 24, 1995

Went back to Rufisque to witness the sacrifice of the bull.
The bull was already dead when we got there.
Oh yeah, I did not exchange money.
I did not have breakfast.  I did eat a bit of fish.  All was served in a common bowl; fish, pickle, cabbage, rice, pepper, yam, spinach…
The bull was ritually slaughtered and butchered on the spot. The head an hooves were buried to strengthen the Rab.
Walked all around the area.
Oumy has my walkman, hopefully Mamadiou will retrieve it.
So many beautiful girls.
One girl keeps winking at me, then pointing to another pregnant woman then to me then to herself?!
Tomorrow I will exchange money.
Took some French/Wolof lessons.
Ousmane II gave me the title ‘Cheikh”.
Ma’am Fatou Seck’s grandfather’s name was Ousmane Ndoye.
Now it is 8:35 p.m. the sun has set.
The Baobab trees have no leaves now.  They grow leaves at the onset of the rainy season.
Susan just called about our meeting at 8:30.  So, as I left to get Deidre from her room I noticed her clock said 7:30.
I checked my watch again it’s only 7:42.  I am so tired!
The sun sets much sooner here.  Why?

I think that I might just run out of film.  I brought 6 color, 10 b/w.  I gave one away and was given one by Leonard.

{Monday night meeting around 8:30.  It has come to our attention that we will have to leave the hotel Sunday.  The government has requested the entire hotel.  We will have to move to beach resort.
Also many of the men that were soliciting funds in the name of Ma’am Fatou Seck are not sanctioned by Ma’am Seck!  Copyright Infringement?
Question from Nona?  The woman was “ridden” by a crocodile Rab and was drinking water from the sand (I did not see her drink).  Sunday in the family compound Rufisque.}

At this point in the trip I have used (dramatic pause) ---a lot of money.
I also drank water from a house in the village.
Tuesday, the 25th

Free day!
I was awakened at 0920 by someone (it’s pitiful that I can’t remember his name) was it Lamine?
We went (Lamine, Mamadiou, and I) to Sambedioune market in town by cab-600cfa.
I bought fabric; elephant 11,000 cfa six meters, batik material 23,000 cfa.
The exchange rate at CitiBank is 470cfa= $1.
At the market 3g of Gold was 21,000cfa. It was a nice pair of earrings.

When I go back to the market I’ll buy Tiffany and Barbra’s masks.
I had coconut off of the street. Well, not really off of the street. I bought it from a street merchant.
They were two for 125 cfa.
I took a nap for approximately 2 hours!
Walked to the westside of the city to catch a sunset, but the sun was hidden by the clouds.
The trip back to the hotel from the market was 700 cfa.
I gave Lamine and Mamadiou 2,500 cfa.
Adam took Susan and I to a restaurant and the three of us ate for 5,775 cfa. We had a liter bottle of Coke, one bottle of Bissap, Curry Legumes, Lentils, Fish, all came with white rice and bread.
Chris took $50 and the Nike boots for the two outfits that I had made.
Went to the pool tonight.
Shoes are BIG commodities here.
When I return I must remember to bring more footwear to trade with.
Bring MORE stuff to trade.
The lunch I had was so filling that I could not eat all of my dinner.  It’s here in my room.
Bottled water was 600cfa a liter.
I took a , OOPS I forgot I already told you that I took a nap.
This is difficult trying to remember everything that happened today at 2300.
Maybe I’ll take this book with me tomorrow as we travel to Malongo and Fatick.

Wednesday, the 26th

Today went to the traditional/modern healing clinic at Fatick in Malongo District
I had a reading by a female diviner.. She advised me to make a sugar sacrifice to cure my ailment.
Witnessed how the synthesis of healing techniques bring together all types of people from surrounding areas.
A truck laden with straw overturned in the road.
Took pictures in a Baobab forest.
Photographed a well near a straw/grass hut.
Photographed Serer children on the way to the clinic.
The clinic was past Rufisque.
Had more fish today.
The reading cost 3,000cfa +1,000cfa for the translation.
I was told to finish school and the Cowry shells indicated that I would leave a group.
I am expected to send at least 3 sets of pictures to people in Fatick.
As in the book from the Auburn Ave Library , the Architecture was different than the architecture from Dakar.
Two young men specifically requested that we start correspondence.
Chris brought my and Angela’s clothes. !Very nice!
Tomorrow we have a city tour including the Grand Mosquee’ then to Goree’ Island.
Louise Finch is wonderful. She has a lot of energy to be 80 years old. She says that she wants to be at least 100 years old.
Today we started at 0830 and it is now 2210.
Had spaghetti and ice cream again. Hey, for 5,000 cfa I have to stay within the budget.
Tomorrow I’ll try a restaurant in town.
I did not take the book with me in to the villages today. So I am again trying to remember.
The clinic had approximately 60 healers including;
1. A man who could treat any malady from long distance. He would determine the malaise and then the patient home to receive the treatment via the ether.
2. My diviner.
3. Opthamalogists.
4. Gynecological Specialists.
5. Bone healers.
6. Etc.

I think I got sunburned today.
Everyone except for a select few, everyone wants to have their picture taken.
I think that I got some good wide angle shots today.
There was a breast hanging out.  This is funny because when we were leaving the hotel this morning Susan had on shorts.  It was suggested that, because of the location and religious attitude in the village that we would be visiting, Susan should change clothes.  Her shorts would probably be considered inappropriate.  Yet, while at the clinic a woman wearing traditional clothing had her right, excuse me, had her HUGE right breast exposed to the shade.
The was screaming coming from one of the buildings in the compound. No one seemed concerned.
We sat around most of the day under a tree.
Met Peter a Tulane student. He’s been here since Nov. 1994 and will be here until October 1995. He is working on a project at Fatick collecting data for research.

Thursday the 27th

Goree’ Island
Exchanged $200. Susan bought $50.
Bought water 600 cfa.
Before Goree’, we toured Dakar. We visited the presidential palace. The small flag was being displayed so that meant that the president was home.

Shots of Cheikh Anta Diop portion of the university.
Passed the international embassies.
Visited the main market near the center of town.
We hung out at the market for 30+ minutes this morning. I went off and shot the market area where the fishermen depart.
The large boats last boats for 50+ years and afterwards the keel is recycled into the new-styled boats.
I bought Tiffany’s and Barbra’s masks for 3,000cfa.
On the island saw the main slave house, the auction block, the remains of the castle.
I bought two T-shirts 6,000cfa, two pair sandals 15,000cfa, 24 bracelets 10,000cfa.

On the way back from the Island I had an uncomfortable emotion. Perhaps it was from motion sickness from the boat, perhaps it was from a sense that I had spent too much $ or cfa today.  There may have been some deep emotion brought to the surface while on the Isle de Goree’. I felt ashamed upset, confused, and insubstantial. This also was fueled by the european female who while trying to climb the stairs pushed Deidre. She told Diedre not to push her.  When Diedre told the female, “Tell her, Steve” in reference for her to be more polite while we were on the boat.  The female turned to me and said,” Yes, tell me Steve.” Well, I told her. I told her to act like an adult and to calm down.  I also told her to act decently since we all were on the same boat. (Did I really mean THAT?!) this really angered me.  One reason was that I really did not feel comfortable that europeans were going to see the Island.  I guess it’s because I doubt seriously that Europeans would feel any remorse for what “they” did.  It was also displayed during the speech that was given at the slave house by Uncle Joe that many other Senegalese do not like europeans. As I attempted to leave the slave house those damned Europeans did not allow me exodus from the building.

I performed the sugar sacrifice at the Grand Mosquee’.
Right now “they” are discussing the Jewish persecution in Germany.  The years that Jews were persecuted in Germany are constantly referred to as the Holocaust.  10 years of persecution does not a holocaust make.
It is now 2005.
A guy on Goree’ had some good Ganja and offered me some.
I have one other thing to do while I’m here.  I’ve got to buy Sean’s cane.
At Goree’ the sky was so, very blue.
I started photos on Goree’ with B/W film.  I ended the day with color.  I hope, I really really hope that I got some good shots today.
A silver ring was sold and then reclaimed.  I guess that I was getting good at the bargaining.

I really am and was unprepared for the poverty. Everyone is poor. Everyone asks for something; film, shoes, food, bracelets, pants. Anything. Shereef our guide asked me for film.  Adam is always selling pictures. His turnaround is approximately one day. The numbers of poor are astonishing everywhere we go; blind, crippled, deformed, poor. So very tiring.  I almost feel like I’m doing the wrong thing by purchasing gifts instead of proving some type of service.

Nonah is very pretty, grey eyes, a splash of grey hair. We enjoy each other’s company. She is older and I think married.
Tomorrow is a free day. I use the term “free” loosely. Undoubtedly, I will experience a day much less than free.
I also bought two sand paintings for 15,000 cfa.  One painting was a fisherboy silhouetted and the other is an Ashanti fertility symbol.
Our bus driver beat up a thief on the street. The thief kept taunting him until the driver went after him with a wine bottle.
Exchange rate today is $1=467cfa. Tuesday it was $1=474cfa.  What’s up with the $ ya’ll?
The presidential palace guard told Susan, “Don’t touch me.” Why was Susan trying to hug the guard?

Friday-Freeday-Freitag 28th April
Breakfast; cereal, watermelon, Jus d’Orange Jus exotique, croissant, Fromage, Pastry.
Went to the market w/Cheikh and bought mudcloth 15,500 cfa, two butterfly pictures 5,000 cfa.
La Domestique asked for money. She came to the room, knocked and handed me a handwritten note in English!
Everywhere there are beggars. They comprise many types;
1. the outright poor.
2. The professional beggars.
3. The business persons.
4. Those that are just part of a veryt raped economic system.

The poor do it to those of greater economic means.
The pros do it just like professional beggars in the US. Habit
Any business people try to get additional money or cfa from anyone who might visit or patronize a business or location.
Those that are caught up in the system because the system here is set up to do it.
I did give Cheikh(or promised to give) a T-shirt in addition to the money he originally wanted 25,000.
I did not buy the cane. I can not buy anything else except necessities; film, water, Essen.
I took Rod to the market. Actually Pape took rod and I to the market.
I took some shots of Sambedioune fishermen, boys, bird w/fish (in flight),
at 1944 we now know that we do not have to leave the hotel. We can stay.
We saw a serpent at the market.
I really did see a serpent. OK, it was just an eel. Everyone at the table (diedre, Nonah, Cheikh, Renee’, Rod (he saw it too)) laughed. The joke was,” Did you see the Loch Ness?”, “What did you smoke?” Cheryl, a psychiatrist from CA scheduled me for a 1600 appointment for counseling.
When anyone comes to Africa to visit the people they must bring shoes. There is a large demand for shoes.  Since public transportation and a personal automobile are almost unheard of, shoes are extremely important.
Cheikh now wants a pair of pants instead of a T-shirt. It’s OK.
I almost took a shot of a bird plucking a fish out of the water.
Bought some REK today to wash clothes with.
Tomorrow we will travel back to Rufisque. We leave at 0930.
Everyone except for the vegetarians and a few others have gotten sick.(malade’). Pauline who has had problems with sciatic nerve, had to a visit by the hotel Dr. This is certainly the place to be if you are sick. We have at least six MD’s and three medical students. Also Ma’am Seck and Fatick!
Americain, Americain! Brother where are you from? My friend! Let me show you…
I met a guy in the bank who is working on the new south African constitution. He says that I must visit Cape Town SA to see the most beautiful girls in Africa.
It’s 2245 and I am hungry again and ready to go to sleep.

Saturday April 29th

Back to Rufisque at 0830
Yesterday many women came in. probably not for the conference they seemed too regal.
Today I lost a bottle of water to the RAB of the floor.
I bought tea today at the compound. Nene Diop prepared it. She is 17 and speaks Wolof, French, Arabic.
Anji Niang is very pretty. She tickles the inside of my hand with her index finger as we shook hands. She also linked her index fingers after pointing out beyond the compound.?
I became very relaxed with the family today. I was really aware how light my skin color is. I could not pass for Senegalese if I tried. I am much too light. Everyone here is so beautiful.
I have something to add to yesterdays assessment of begging;
Shereef stated that in Islamic training the children are taught begging as a sort of vocation. Now this is not simple begging. It is learning how to ask anyone for anything. Humility.
Mamadiou offered me food and tea at his house. I then was expected to eat at the compound as well.. I did.
Dr. Cheryl got possessed and ridden by a RAB today.
I will give away lots of my remaining clothing tomorrow.
On the bus ride home tonight, my eyes started to burn with Pretear lubrication. I became sad to think that I would have to leave here. That I would leave the abundance of genuine African spirit. these people are poor, but do not hesitate to open their homes to total strangers. They feed us. they present us with gifts. they greet us as returned relatives. The children and older persons show real respect as they come into our presence. We all are offered a hand to shake and generally, “Na nga dieuf?” To which we respond, “Maanga fi rek.”
Jeebi says he has been wearing the same shoes for two years. He wants some of my boots. Now, Ousman II says he will pay for the boots.
I gave Anji Niang one of my earrings.
On the way back from Rufisque we stopped and ate at Eric’s house and office. He is chief researcher at Fatick. The place was LAID!!
Everyone, all over is preparing for Mayday. There will be sacrifices galore. Most all of the shops will be closed for the all day celebration.
It’s 2344.
They’re showing music videos on TV.

Sunday April 30th

Breakfast (standard)
Bus was a lot smaller than the first few days. I guess the conference had commandeered the large busses (or is it buses?)
Today the bulls were sacrificed. It took about 15 minutes for the bull that I stepped over to die. We had to step over the bull seven times between his tied legs.
We had to blow our wishes into the bull’s mouth.
All of the sacrifices were performed by the same man who made a simple cut along their throats.  he seemed to enjoy his job. He has status he gets paid.
The bulls heads were then put onto an outcropping of volcanix rocks where Coumba Lamba came to claim or to refuse the offering.  If the RAB refuses the offering it will be washed onto the beach. If it is accepted it will be carried into the ocean.
I used the toilette at the beach house where the sacrifices were made.
I got sunburned.
Susan is jealous because I ( may 1) have decided to keep up with my journal. She says that I am neglecting her. She also says that if we were here longer she would start acting like a cat?
Now it is 1250 and outside in the square there is a Fete. May Day 1995.
Susan got me all confused. I was writing today’s stuff in twit Sunday’s
Susan has now decided to help me remember yesterday’s events. Today is Monday. We walked approximately 3-4 miles on the beach. As we walked from the compound through the city, we picked tag-a-longs, people just started walking with us. People were opening their doors and just walking along. This was a big event.  there were maybe 300-500 people present. 
Then Ben showed up.  We first met him around Tuesday. He says he is Ma’am Seck’s grandson. Anyway, he showed up on the beach as I was being anointed w/ the blood of the bull. Blood was put on my head and neck. I had to rub the blood into my skin.  Well, back to Ben.. He was wearing school boys glasses, starched shirt, pressed pants and some kind of dress loafers. He is a playboy-lookalike (Senegalese). Very western, educated at Columbia university. He is here setting up a relationship with computers and hardware. Susan says he is importing French lotion into America!
Wagon Fei was wrapped in many layers of cloth and seated upon the now outstretched bull.
Baigun, Baigun!  Means ,"leave those other girls alone.”
We sang an song inviting Coumba Lamba to take the sacrifices.
The bus.  This was tough. everynight when we left someplace we almost had a riot. Everybody wants to ride. I don’t blame them cause it was a looooong walk.
Shereef blesed them all out.
I ran out of film on the beach. A roll was 2,000cfa. That was down from 3,500cfa.

The South Fulton Extra, a local newspaper, was another link from “home”.

This was significant because as any international traveller knows, you do not drink water in foreign countries.

Bissap is a beverage that is very similar to West Indian “Sorrel”.  It is a beverage that many people compare to a sweeter cranberry juice.

Serer is the second majority ethnic group in Western Senegal.  The Serer occupy the majority of the rural areas outside of the capital Dakar.

Earlier I thought that his name was Roger. He was a Morehouse student.

Posted by SPN on 04/02 at 10:05 AM in Personal

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