Archive for the 'Wolof' Category

Marché

Saturday, February 16th, 2008

(Yikes!!

It is my mission to see these places before they destroy them.)

As of tomorrow, I have three weeks left to the day. I had my first frightening dream about going home this afternoon, while I was in the process of taking a 3.5 hour nap instead of taking care of any of the numerous required assignments I should be finishing. (Not to suggest for a moment that I didn’t procrastinate before, but Sénégal has put me into some terrible habits. Fortunately I’m still excellent at stressing myself out, so I should re-adjust to college life fairly easily.)

I exhausted myself this morning by going into town to search for gifts, and not finding a single thing. It’s not so much that I didn’t see anything that was appropriate gift material, but moreso that it’s hard to be treated as a tourist. I wish I had bought tourist-y gifts before I got to the point of understanding my surroundings.

Beaded jewelry, wooden statues of elephants (which don’t live in Sénégal, by the way), and all manner of other crazy things for which the Sénégalese generally have no use.

In this particular market, you are guaranteed to pick up a man who wants to lead you to his shop within the first five minutes. If you’re firm enough to shake him off, he is likely to call you racist. And then you find a new one thirty seconds later.

Lately I’ve been conversing with them in Wolof. They’re usually quite nice, and they don’t harrass you like some of the others. I enjoy the conversations, but the unpleasant side-effect is that you usually end up having to follow along all the way to their shop and/or get lost on some wild goose chase. I’m always firm about telling them that I’m not going to buy anything, but they never believe me. Even when I do plan to buy something, I NEVER do so in their presence. I always wait to shake them off.

There is one gratifying effect of the conversation route; I love hearing the words “she’s not a tourist” coming out of a vendor’s mouth. Alxamdulilaay.

A Typical Taxi Ride in the Streets of Dakar

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008


IMG_7040

Originally uploaded by mouse.courtois

M: Asalaa Maalekuum – Hello
TD: Maalekuum Salaam – Hello
M: Na nga def? – How are you?
TD: Man ngiy fii. – I am here.
M: Man ngiy dem Point E; Piscine Olympique – I’m going to Point E, to the Olympic swimming pool.
*insert bargaining here*
TD: Fan nga jog̩? РWhere do you come from?
M: Amerik la jogé. Man ngiy jàng ci Universite Cheick Anta Diop. Yàgg naa fii juroomi weer. – The U.S. I study at the University here. I’ve been here for five months.
TD: Amerik wàlla Sénégal lan moo gen? – Which country is better?
M: J’aime les deux!! – I like them both!! (Notice the lapse in my Wolof. It was bound to come soon…at this point he continues in Wolof, and although I understood what he said I do not know how to say it myself. I continue mainly in French.)
TD: That’s not what I said. I said gen!!
M: Gen?? As in sortir (to go out)? Or as in preference?? What is gen?
TD repeats himself, but changes the sentence.
M: I said I like them both.
TD: If you’re going to speak Wolof you should understand what’s being said.
M: And how will I learn if I don’t practice what I know? Tell me what you said.
TD: I said *same thing*
M: Dégguma. – I don’t understand.
TD: Well then you should ask me what I said!!
M: I did!!
*pause*
TD: Don’t you want to know what I said?
M: Fine. What did you say?
TD: It’s a body part.
M: Oh. (I think I see where this is going…)
TD: You know, like arm, or head, or ear, or eye…
M: *pause*
TD: Only men have it.
M: You’re not polite, so I’m changing the subject. How was your day?
TD: Are you married?
M: (switching back to Wolof) Yes I am, my husband lives in the states.
TD: Is he Sénégalese?
M: No.
TD: You need a Sénégalese husband. Marry me.
M: One husband is more than enough.
TD: No, you should have two husbands. It’s better that way.
M: No, I don’t think so. My husband pleases me.
TD: Do you have children?
M: No. Not yet.
TD: Why not?
M: (back to French) We’re students. We need to finish school.
TD: Has your husband not had relations with you?
M: You’re very rude.
TD: I’m not rude, I’m trying to help you learn Wolof. Has he? I could please you sexually.
M: No, you couldn’t please me if you tried. My husband is better than you. You watch too many telenovelas (soap operas with white people eating each others faces on beaches/other public places), and those are not life. You need to learn to respect women. You cannot speak to us like this, what would your mother say?
TD: *giggle giggle*
M: Yeah, okay fine. Have a nice day. RESPECT WOMEN.

So, what do you think?? Believe it or not, the whole thing happened in surprisingly good spirits. I would like to proudly call attention to my personal growth in the last five months that I was able to have a civilized discussion with this man, to hopefully teach him something (which I hope I did, although it does not turn up in this conversation) and to leave without wanting to hang myself in the shower.

Baal ma ko*

Friday, January 4th, 2008

Despite the lateness, I have no time to post today. Slept less than two hours on a boat last night.

Next time!!

* “Forgive me it”, in Wolof

“University classes”

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

THey don’t exist.  No, really I’m not kidding.  We’ve already completed one credit for the course in St. Louis and our Wolof classes are finished after this week, but both of those are through the Baobab Center.  Also through the Baobab Center, we have a Cultural Seminar (which is actually pretty useless due to the professor’s tendency to interrupt *constantly*) and History of Islam which is excellent.  So, that is four credits.

The fifth will come from my Integrative Cultural Research Project, for which I plan to work with a tailor.  I haven’t cleared the idea with my professor yet and I haven’t found a tailor, but I imagine that it won’t be that difficult to clear it all.

The sixth (and anything after that) will come from the university…

Classes have not started yet.  The credit for the courses comes from taking the test that comes at the end, not from actually attending the classes.  With that said I’ll still have to go because a) I’m not fluent in French and b) whatever subject I take probably won’t be something I know about.  There are student strikes at the university right now due to severe overcrowding issues in the dorms,  and nothing will really start until the 19 or so…when break starts.  We have time off between the 17:19th and the 7th or January.  After that, we’ll finally start classes.

In January, each of us spends a week in a rural village.  The program is finished in February, after which I have two weeks set aside for travel.

The point of this story?? I’ll be spending a month taking my university courses, thank you very much!!  It’s a little terrifying to have only that much time, but I have faith in the system.  Inchallah*, right??

I *may* take French, along with something else.  We’ll see.

*Arabic phrase meaning “God willing”, adopted by Wolof