|Doing a voice-over( voix off) for Capital FM 3 days after arrival 🙂|
So yours truly got home exactly two weeks ago, after a very long wait. The feeling was just beautiful. After a 2hr train journey, 16 kilos of excess baggage, half an hour at the Leopold Sedar Senghor airport waiting for my luggage, getting picked up by mum’s office driver,the 5hr drive from Dakar to Barra, the 6hr wait at the Barra ferry terminal and the drive from Banjul to Latrikunda, I finally saw my family again after exactly 1 year and 8 months. Hence no-one knew about my trip except my mother, you can only imagine the look on their faces when I walked in, clad in my harem pants and a white blouse, carrying my handbag and my PC. Priceless moment for me. When I saw my grandma, I cried. Don’t ask why because I do not know what the answer would be. Sad thing is she didn’t recognise me at first and asked ‘kii kan la’ (who is this?). If only I was warned that I was going to cry again, I would not have wasted my last packet of tissue paper wiping off dust from my face at Barra. My sister was away at my cousin’s and as soon as I called, she ran all the way home. What she did caught me off guard. She looked at me and all I could see were the tears in her eyes. Boy, did she hug me? I felt good at that moment. I felt thankful for having been away. I felt that my absence has helped us to appreciate each other even more. When we hugged, everyone watched and if you know me, you’ll know my tears did not refuse another opportunity to show their existence. Well, over with the emotional bit. I got my luggage in and set off for my uncle’s house in search of ‘EBBEH’. Yes, that’s how much I had missed it.
So I’ll do a short description of the journey from l’aeroport Mohammed V in Casablanca to Barra. You know about the excess baggage already. Thaks to the guy that accompanied me to the airport, I was able to get another bag and convert half of one suitcase into hand-luggage. Then I paid for the remaining 4 kilos of excess baggage I had. I was travelling with another Senegalese student and she helped with a few stuff. Our flight was delayed for about 2 hours and when it was time to leave, I made two friends (sad I can no longer remember their names but will try to get in touch with them when I get back). One helped to carry my stuff and I was grateful. Flight was kinda cool. I sat next to a middle-aged guy whose nationality I couldn’t determine, though I had the impression he was French. I spent most of the time sleeping, and when I would wake up I’d read a book I’d been trying to complete for ages now. It’s called ”Africa: Altered states, Ordinary miracles” and it is a good read. Touchdown in Dakar at around 6:30a.m instead of 4a.m. As we left the airport, Gambia-bound, at precisely 6:58a.m, I saw a ‘Talibe’ or ‘Almudu’ (street-child). I immediately got my note-pad out and started taking notes. I noticed a lot of changes in Senegal’s city. The last time I was in Dakar was sometime in 2006. A whole lot of ‘Car-rapides’ and ‘Daka demm-dikks’ lined the streets of Dakar. The smells, the sounds, the people going about their business at that early hour of the day helped to adjust my senses to the fact that I was no longer in Morocco. There was so much pollution and it helped to draw my attention to the fact that I had never cared much about this. The thought of the ‘Almudu’ was still in my mind. At 6:58 a.m, when most kids were still in the comfort of their beds, he was out in the streets, with no shoes, ragged clothes, and sleepy eyes, moving between the cars, with no care for his safety. At 7:00a.m , I saw two others. I decided to keep track of the time intervals so as to illustrate the gravity of this phenomenon that is still allowed to exist in our society. One of them held half a loaf of bread in one hand and an empty tomato pot in the other. He still looked very sleepy, but went on with his begging. While I was busy wondering what I could do to help stop the practice of getting these kids on the streets early in the morning to beg, a familiar voice cut through my head. It was the GRTS news at 7. They had the ‘Bintang Bolong’ jingle at the end and I smiled. I knew I was really home. Then at 7:03, I saw another group of three Talibes. I easily concluded that it was too much to be accepted. Across the street from them, stood another who looked nothing more that 5 years old. A man runs past and hands him a coin and the boy smiles. I wondered if we should stop so I could give them something to save them a beating. Only then did I realise that I had no CFA with me. Just as we got out of Rufisque, I lay down to sleep, after having fought off the urge for a good one hour, so I could enjoy the view as we speed past villages and towns.
I was rudely awoken by sharp jolts in the car as a result of the very bad roads leading from wherever we were to Karang. Seeing the sign welcoming us to Karang, I decided to end my sleep. We got to Karang and I bought cashew nuts (I always do when I get to Karang). Then we proceeded to Barra, where we waited for 6 hours before being able to cross on the ferry to Banjul. There was only one ferry and we saw it make about 5 journeys to and from Banjul before we could get space. I was so tired, I didn’t know whether to be happy or not. All I felt was relief. From there, you can guess the rest.
After getting home I’ve had a lot of great times, meeting new people, learning new things. I went to my first ‘Balafong Word Of Mouth’ event, and performed one of the pieces I’d written (”A year down the road”, which you can read on here). I ‘ll talk about that in another post. For now, I’m off to go eat some Plasas(Just realised I hadn’t taken my lunch). Catch ya sooon!
P.S I just remembered something. Just before Barra, from Karang there’s this place called the Jama Estate. You might want to look out for it the next time you find yourself around that area.:-) . Ciao