Sunday, July 11, 2010

Let Me Tell You About Teraanga

Teraanga: Wolof for hospitality
Eariler in my blog posts, I established the goal of wanting to attend a sabar. In my quest to find the sabar this past weekend, I learned the true meaning of the word teraanga.
From Dakar 2010
Let's start with Susan, her husband Michael and their smiley son, Emmanuel. Susan invited us into her home after we came into her place of work to ask her questions about what her organization does. She is from Uganda and wanted to sit and speak English with some people. She is one of those people you instantly like after you meet her. She made us dinner and we sat and talked about our lives while drinking the local beer and trying to make her son laugh. It felt like hanging with friends at home and instead of making me more homesick, it made me feel welcome. Teraanga.

From Dakar 2010
I want to tell you about the Faye family, otherwise known as the Sing-Sings, a family of griot muscians in Dakar, who took my colleague Korin and I in as their own, inviting us to sit around the family bowl for lunch, not laughing too hard while we attempted conversations with our limited Wolof, calling us their daughters/sisters, braiding my hair, dressing us in Senegalese clothes, and sharing ataya tea and bissap juice with us. How do I always naturally fall in with musicians? Teraanga.
From Dakar 2010
I've got to tell you about the Faye teens, Abdou, Aya, and Ana who insist on taking care of me in Dakar, even though I am more ten years older than them. They are some of the sweetest and most respectful fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen year olds I've ever met. Abdou protectively made sure the ladies were always in front of him while we walked down the insane streets of downtown and kept checking in to ensure we weren't getting hassled by too many of the merchants. Teraanga.
From Dakar 2010
From Dakar 2010
And then there is the sabar we attended with Abdou. These are held every weekend on streets around town. His family was playing the drums and invited us along to one of the best displays of musicianship I've ever witnessed. The men played for almost 5 hours with only a 2 or 3 breaks and women danced and danced, throwing their legs up in ways I have never seen before. Every so often, Abdou would look over at us, give us the thumbs up, and mouth, "Are you happy?" That is one of his favorite things to say. Teraanga.
From Dakar 2010
The whole neighborhood was at the sabar, including some of the most regal, beautiful, and talented women I've ever seen. No one said anything about the toubabs sitting in on their sabar and occasionally taking pictures. Instead, they offered us seats, water, and company while we listened to beats you could feel through your whole body and took in all of the colors and movement. Teraanga.
From Dakar 2010
I can attend every lecture of every intellectual in Dakar, but I've learned more from the beautiful people I've met in this city than I can learn in any lecture hall.

Why isn't life always like this?

Love,
Jen, who may have danced a little at the very end of the sabar but is definitely not in my favorite video of the night:
From Dakar 2010
Just click on the picture to watch the video.
I will post more videos of the sabar when I get home. It was one of the coolest things I've ever seen in my life!

1 comment:

Joseph said...

Ultimately, it is always about the people. Without the people, the experience tends to have little external value. I'm pretty damn proud of you little sistah!

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