I started my weekend well. I was at one of the social centers we work with and learning embroidering, which I was pretty horrible at. One of the girls in the center whose name is Oumou taught me… I was doing it right apparently, but not really since I made it too tight.
Then we went for one of my peer’s birthday to a Spanish restaurant to end up in an Indian place for my Byriani, a rice dish from India. And yes, even though the Senegalese people eat rice, Malagasy people eat more rice so I still needed to have rice when I could have chosen something else.
On Saturday morning, I went to a cultural event at the University of Dakar where students and professors were celebrating the African cultural and scientific day of vet students’ fight against Ebola. It was a day where they celebrated different cultures of all the students represented at the department for veterinary science of the university.
They also tackled the issue of the importance of the work of a vet against Ebola. A lot of western African countries and others were represented, such as Chad, Central African Republic, Burundi, Mali, Central Africa, Mauritania. I learned that day that Mali and Senegal were the same country before independence from the French. They have very similar flags; the only difference is the star in the middle of the Senegalese flag. They also have similar mottos: for Mali it “One people, one faith” and for Senegal it is “One people, One faith and One goal”.
Something that I was surprised about was how much the Ivoirians were admired by this particular campus. As we walked around the country stands, the Ivoirians were up on the stage and most of the students stopped all activities. My friends (students from the university) told me “take place, we are going to watch the Ivoirians” though they did not pay much attention to the previous performers.
I have to admit that they (Ivoirians) put on quite a show and showed “the Ivorian Swag.” They performed a theater show about a case of Ebola and danced the “coupé décalé”. I am not sure if this fame has always been associated with the Ivoirians on campus or if this only started when they won the past African Soccer Cup or CAN (Coupe d’Afrique des nations.)
I got to try Central African food… amazing.
We went to dance Zumba with my sisters for the eve of the celebration of Women’s Day.
I am really grateful to be able to attend a evangelical Church, very similar to the one I went to in Madagascar and the church I attend in the United States. I am really happy to have a place where I can practice my faith and find a community in Dakar where 95% of the population is Muslim. My church is about 500 people and is in French.
This church is very handy for what we would say in Malagasy are “mpiavy” (immigrants) like myself because the first service is translated from French into English and the second service is translated in Wolof. I really don’t need translation, but it is practical for people from the Gambia or Nigeria and mostly the United States to feel welcome in Dakar at this church.
I would say about half of the Church is not Senegalese people but members from Mali, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, the Central African Republic … There are even about five Malagasy members who I can speak Malagasy with after church services.