Friday, July 30, 2010

Farewell Dinner and Reflection

As if to punctuate our experience here in Africa, the gods gave us lightning and thunder for our farewell dinner tonight. As usual we had some great food. We also exchanged gifts and made a few speeches. But it was the tears of Mame Coumba that told me we had made our mark on Africa as Africa has made its mark on each of us.

I miss sleeping with Smudge and I’m ready to go home but, I have had an experience here unlike any of my other travels. I’ve had trouble understanding much of what I’ve seen but, this I can tell you for sure; Africa wants our respect as a brother with an equal birthright. Yes, there is much poverty here but, as we offer a helping hand we must be willing to acknowledge our own shortcomings and offer to work side-by-side as equal partners to better the world. I have seen many clever entrepreneurs and hard working people with an optimistic vision of the future.

For now, I will need more time to reflect on my experience. But, the strongest image in my mind is of a small girl in Toubacouta. She was maybe two or three years old and she leaned next to me as the drummers were drumming and many of the villagers were dancing. I could tell she had a strong urge to run out and dance as she watched some of the older girls dance. Eventually, she ran out with a very serious look on her face and danced with surprising skill. All the older girls were smiling and laughing as they danced but, this little one maintained her sober face and when finished dancing she returned to her place next to me as seriously as when she had left. It was clear to me that she needed to be a part of the dance and she was intent on giving her best dance.

A few minutes later, one of the dancers grabbed my hand and invited me to dance. I was like that young girl. I decided to give my best dance. Though I’m sure my moves were awkward, my dance partner could see I was offering my best and her eyes lit up as we moved to the pounding rhythm. Sweat ran from our brows as our faces got closer and our eyes locked and our hearts pounded in unison. Our conversation was not in French nor even in Wolof but, I think I’ve never had such a meaningful discussion.

I gave my best dance.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Work is Done

Well, we've all completed our research projects and given our presentations. I can't believe tomorrow is our farewell dinner. Then we will have a day to do as we please in Dakar before leaving early Sunday morning.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Village Clinic

We visited the village clinc yesterday. This wagon had just brought a woman to the clinc to have a baby.

And below is Toubacouta's youngest resident; just a few hours old.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Late Night and a busy day

Here's a picture of my lunch from yesterday.

Today we went south to the Gambian boarder and talked the guards into letting us cross without a visa.

This is a video from a party the people in the village gave us last night. It seems I have become the John Travolta of Toubacouta. They really like my dancing. It may take a few minutes to load but, it's worth it.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Here's the video

I managed to upload the video from this morning. We spent most of the day today traveling around the river delta in a boat. We stopped at a village along the way where I got this picture.

Morning in Toubacouta

We were on the road most of the day yesterday but, I saw this boy in an Obama shirt when we stopped for lunch. After a very bumpy ride, we eventually arrived in Toubacouta and are staying in a very nice place on the Saloum River. We've already seen some monkeys and will be taking a trip down the river this afternoon. I wanted to upload a video but the connection here isn't good enough.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Monday the19th

Monday was a bit of a slow day but, very interesting. We started the day at WARC with a lecture by Dr. Anna Fall-Gaye on African Diaspora in Cuba and the resulting Yoruba religion; La Regh de Ocha. We ended the day with a tour of IFAN; a West African "Museum Program".

Today we will again be at WARC for a roundtable discussion on Modern Migrations and African Diaspora. Then lunch followed by another roundtable discussion on Secondary Education in Senegal.