Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Senegal

“The old wise man died; an entire library is burned”; (Mar. 4, 2010)

African author, Amadou Hampate Ba (1900-91) was born in eastern Mali and had said “In oral culture Africa, when an old wise man dies then an entire library burns with him”.  Amadou focused his life gathering all the stories, myths, and history of the tribes living in the States of Mali, Senegal, Burkina Fasso, and Ivory Coast.  In every tribe or clan, there is a few storytellers or grios entertaining people around bonfires in evenings.  The storytellers teaches children of the history and traditions of the tribe, of nature, and the changing seasons.  In one of his books he wrote: “Aissata told her son: “Learn to cover the material nudity of man before you cover by word his moral nudity”

Author and poet Wole Soyinka received the Nobel Prize of Literature in 1986. Soyinka was born in western Nigeria from the tribe of Yoruba in 1934.  During Nigeria civil war, Soyinka was jailed for two years in secrecy (1968-69); he wrote in jail “This man has died”.  In his speech at Stockholm during the Nobel ceremony and titled “Let this past talk to this present” he lambasted the philosophers and thinkers of Europe’s 19th century (such as Voltaire and Hegel) for accepting the principle of slavery.  Wole said “All who have the passion for peace must make a choice: Either they include peace in this modern world, bring it to rational situations, and let peace participate in the spirit of human associations or force Blacks in Africa to kneel in abject conditions and deny them human dignity.  There is nothing more pressing than suppressing racism and apartheid; their structures have got to be dismantled.”

Historian and Egyptology from Senegal, Cheikh Anata Diop (1923-86) published “Negro Nations and culture, 1954”.  He claimed that African civilization precedes Greek civilization that borrowed form and content via Egypt of Antiquity.  Colonial powers were ready to admit that the black skinned (from head to toe) and the frizzled hair Egyptians were no proof enough to claim that the civilization of Egypt of Antiquity was necessarily African. This awkward logic was necessary in order to colonize Africa as devoid of civilizations, rational people, and high spiritual capacity.  European Egyptology erudite went as far as proclaiming that it was “inadmissible” that Ancient Egypt in Africa was a Black civilization.  Diop book was published in several languages and the Blacks in the USA used it for renewal of their civilized roots.

Note: You may refer to my new category “Black culture/Creole” for short biographies and literary samples of Black leaders and intellectuals.

“… Riding this camel is rougher than maneuvering a skiff” 

(September 2, 2009)

            My first visit to this fishing village was due to a malfunction in the small cruising ship. I have never traveled by sea and I longed for this kind of adventure.  I came to a small sum of money by lick late in my life.  I had no idea how to spend it.  I stumbled on a cruise pamphlet and my longing rekindled powerfully.  No, I didn’t care to board those most modern and most comfortable cruise ships: I wanted to be among a restricted hardy crowd that loved to go on an adventure instead of the predominantly cozy vacationers.

            It took me about a month of investigation to find a sea cruising Travel Company with my specifications. I had first to take to sea to Alexandria to board the cruise. I could have flown but I wanted to taste the sea and check if I could sustain the travel. The trip was to circumnavigate Africa and then cross the Suez Canal on the return trip.

            A hovercraft landed us in this fishing village. Many preferred to stay in the ship for the duration of the repair. I was among the “adventurers” who wanted to trample the shores of Mauritania.  It turned out that the village was about a couple hours drive to Dakar, the capital of Senegal.

            I liked the village and it was the cool “rainy” season.  I decided to pay a deposit for an old rundown house with a functional well situated on a mound and at about 300 meters from the Atlantic Ocean.

            I returned the next year by air with plans.  I could speak and understand classical Arabic but I needed much more time to learn the local slang. I planted roots as a serious business man, not the occasional tourist, by buying shares of a camel caravan leader.  Caravan business suffered serious predicaments.  Caravans by camels moved loads of salt to the interior and going as far as Mali.  Modern transports and the abundance of salt were killing this old fashion trade. I had a mind of transforming part of the business into a tourist old fashion desert cruising enterprise.

Raising camels is a hard job; finding comfort on top of a camel is a misnomer: You might as well say “riding this camel is rougher than maneuvering a skiff”. I have not yet mounted a camel, not even a horse, never a lousy pony.  I figure that you should take a dizzy pill for precaution, just climbing up high, not to say looking at the undulating sand. I figure that riding camels is not an ingrained behavior and gaining patience for camel traveling is obviously not one of the human characteristics.  Either you are trained to focus inwardly like yogi (focus on a point in the desert is out of the question) or you might have developed powerful imagination (like reciting Kublai Khan Poem and adding quatrains to it).  It is not like plunging your kid in deep sea to teach him swimming: quick sand spots are frequent encounters.

In the second millennia techniques for designing saddles for camels as a mounting fighting beast during wars were introduced; there were saddles located ahead, on, or behind the boss of the camel for specific fighting advantages; the main specifications related to matters of control of the beast, stability, and range of vision.

            The Bedouin castes were created by the urban merchants to domesticate camels and then used later to support caravans as fighting guards against raiders.  Raising camels thus became a lucrative trade that specific tribes of Bedouins had the monopoly.


Note: this post and the previous one “Out in Mauritania” are day dreaming stories; it up to you to actualize.  These two posts might unfold to a novel or be cut short. Your feedback could be a catalyst to my design.

Out in Mauritania; (September 1st, 2009)


            I am seasonally settled in Mauritania; by a small poor fishing coastal village 30 miles of the borders with Senegal.  I selected this spot so that I may skip to Dakar for a couple of days, now and then, and enjoy mingling with the undulating and dancing bodies in the street of the capital of Senegal.  I love walking haphazardly in the streets among the rainbow clothed women, proud of exhibiting their charm and flashing their friendly smiles.

            I visit my farmhouse (without any farm animals) three months a year during the “winter” season.  It does not rain that much but it rains a little for the designation.  The winter season is cool and sunny most of the time.  The weather at night is not as cold as in the desert, close by, during the rest of the year; the sun is bright and gentle with this tinge of dry air coming from the desert nearby.

            My farmhouse is kind of a larger version, after remodeling, than most residences made of brick mud mixed with palm straw. My farmhouse is different inside; I arranged for a vast open underground space, equipped with a large modern kitchen and an oversized “custom made” Jacuzzi; the Jacuzzi can accommodate at least six persons but I designed a separate smaller one, attached to the main one, to save on water and power for frequent use instead of a regular bathtub.  This underground chamber houses my library and my audio-visual installations.

            My farmhouse is different; atop the second half of the roof facing south I erected an enclosed opaque glass gazebo; the floor is of packed dirt; palm branches and overhanging vine cover the gazebo.  Four large windows open half way down; you need to half stand to watch the view of the infinite horizons toward the ocean or the desert. The roof of the farmhouse is poured in concrete, thick enough and strong enough to sustain 60 cms of garden dirt to grow salad vegetables and a couple of jasmine trees.

            My farmhouse is the same as the typical residences; the main floor offers the interior of feeling at home for regular visitors.  The interior design, dwelling accommodations, furniture, and painting colors are the same. The kitchen is  typically “traditional”, which means nothing much in equipments, and the toilets are typical village toilets, just a hole and a utensil to pour water in and wash the ass.

            I am planning to plant varieties of fruit trees that withstand salty dirt and weather.  Instead of an artificial fence the perimeter will be ringed with three ranges of trees 10 meters deep; the trees will be spaced out 5 meters.

            I intend of extending the southern part of the farmhouse with three other non-attached ramblers to create a Middle Eastern inside patio; the main fountain will be located in the center and I will install benches around the fountain.  I will grow around the patio vegetables and Latin American flowers. Eventually, two of the ramblers might serve as warehouses.

And in the Mud Glittered Nuggets of Gold (May 20, 2009)

People fail to engage and meet the proper way.

Jesus is sitting by a well at noon in a village of Samaria.

It is hot and Jesus has sent his disciples to purchase food. Jesus could have helped himself of water but he preferred to wait for a woman to show up to the well.

Jesus knows the customs of the land; only women who are banished from the village dare come to the well and they come around noon, after all the “good” women have filled their jar in the early morning and also at sun down. 

Jesus has something to say to women coming at noon to the well.  Before proselytizing, Jesus ask for a favor, a drink of water, a favor easy to offer but means a lot to a thirsty man.

The Samaritan woman gives Jesus water and then Jesus can tender the “water of life”.  If you want people to listen to you, you first have to ask a favor to be at a par, to demonstrate that you mean to listen to them, to understand them, to be part of them before you communicate your share of thoughts.

People fail to engage and meet the proper way.

People slave to becoming independent and self sufficient so that they would never ask for favors again. They go to humiliating situations in order to acquire power and lord it over other people.

Whatever favors they asked when “little” it was not to know and befriend people but to ruminate revenge afterwards.  What should have been the best mean of communicating friendship is turned around to be an ugly behavior that downgrades the sense of dignity and pride.

What goes to individuals goes to nations.

The colonial powers were not interested in learning anything from the colonized people; they were not in the mood of conversing and listening.

The colonizing powers started proselytizing the Christian “charity” and ideology, mouthing democratic utopia, exercising technological advantages, enforcing codes of rules, regulations, and laws that applied only to the white men in the colonized countries.

The colonial powers hurled at the colonized people whatever mud they had on hands.  Out of the mounds of mud, the under-developed States painstakingly dug up nuggets of gold.

The western nations did not modernize the under-developed people; it is the poorer people that proved to be more resilient and thirsty for development and progress against the will and interest of the colonizers.  This process did not change.

Whatever breakthroughs the ex-colonized people are achieving it is because of their will to catching up with centuries of neglect against the resisting wishes of the western nations.  The late President of Senegal, Leopold Sengor, said it wonderfully “The colonizers have certainly carried to us plenty of mud.  Amid the mud we discovered gold nuggets.”




February 2023

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