Dear Senegal

11 August 2013

This is not a farewell quite yet.  I imagine at the point of farewell I will either be too blinded by nostalgia or you will be busy chewing me up and spitting me out one last time for my perspective to be this clear.

I want to start by saying, thank you.  Thank you for the obvious things: teaching me Mandinka, giving me a new family and best friends, a namesake, a home, a garden and a rice field.  But, also, Senegal, thank you for letting me sleep on your shoulder in the sept place, for excusing my boughts of anger whether warranted or not, for greeting my family, for knowing my order at the butik, for coming down on your price, for commiserating over what we all know is b.s. but have to endure anyway because “C’est Afrique,” you say.  Thank you for being my friend because we speak the same language or your mother is my namesake.  Thanks for letting my friends and I speak our secret language in front of you speaking of which, thanks for not being The Gambia.  Thanks for the extra carrot for being a regular customer.  Thank you for being patient and growing my patience, because time is one thing we all have.

You’ve given me a lot, Senegal, and I know you’re at least received some in return because Seyni planted the three sisters a year after I talked to him about the companion cropping scheme.  Alhumdullilah!  Senegal, thanks for teaching me the beauty of small victories.  I will take you as a small victory, Senegal.  Nothing colonial here, just an admission that you put up a fight at times, and a revelation that I survived and occasionally flourished.

And what it comes down to at the end of every day:

My favorite people in Senegal.  And why being here is like being on the bottom of the dog pile: crushing hilarity, the pain is usually worth the laughs.

My favorite people in Senegal. And why being here is like being on the bottom of the dog pile: crushing hilarity, the pain is usually worth the laughs.

Peace Only,

Mary Cad.

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