Of Serigns and Talibehs

”Lo doonul talibeem, mënulo doone serignam”

English Translation: ‘An aspiring master would have to pass through the career chain from apprentice to journeyman before he could be elected to become a master craftsman.’

I don’t have to dig deep into my (short) history to illustrate this proverb. Oh come on,don’t give me that smile. I already saw the sigh of relief you just let out. Lol

Anyway, I made my choice for today’s post while in school a few hours ago. I’d awoken to very strange weather and only God knows how I managed to drag myself to school as early as 9a.m. I had only one class today and it usually starts at 10:30am. However, I had a magazine for radio to work on and complete for my Professor before Monday. My group had already collected the sounds we needed, conducted interviews and everyone had their papers ready for recording. In school, much emphasis is placed on the technical side of production, which is actually interesting if you ignore the first pangs of frustration you get. I was tasked with doing a report on the 2nd round of Presidential elections in Senegal. I did a vox pop with Senegalese students resident in Morocco and wrote my paper based on my findings(obviously). As soon as I got to school, I started work on editing the files. The school’s equipment had recently suffered a breakdown and we had to adjust to using a new software, Adobe Audition, instead of the usual Dalet. This latter was much easier to use and I’d almost mastered the different techniques and even devised my own shortcuts to save time. Nevertheless, I listened and watched attentively as the technician explained the different steps before leaving. Nervously, I took control of the mouse and started listening, selecting, cutting, pasting, deleting etc. After five minutes, I couldn’t go further and called out to the technician. She explained everything a second time and after letting me practise in her presence, she left me to finish up. This time, everything went smoothly and I was able to edit all the sounds in about an hour. I’ve got to say a bit of  perseverance got me to the end.

After recording our scripts, we had to do the final montage, inserting all interviews. We were told that this step was the most difficult and we could not do it without the help of the technician. Seated between my Senegalese colleague and I, she set about weaving through the different screens. I just looked on, wondering when we would get to the ‘difficult’ part. A moment later, she sighed in frustration and confessed that she could not go any further. Politely, I asked if I could help and she willingly handed over the mouse. In less than 5 steps, I had the first interview inserted. She stared at me in amazement and exclaimed, ‘Bravo Mademoiselle’. I smiled and reclined on my seat, satisfied with my simple, yet highly appreciated contribution.

What exactly am I driving at? The importance and indispensability of learning, of course. I never would have solved the problem if I hadn’t shown a willingness to learn from the very first minute. In the end, we see the roles changing and I was on the other side of the table. Often, we come across clichés like ‘Learning is a gradual process’, ‘We learn new things everyday’ etc. This proverb, however, focuses more on the importance of being humble enough to recognise those superior to you in a certain domain. Only through humility can we accept to be taught by people who have more knowledge and expertise than us. The Talibeh has high hopes of becoming the Serign tomorrow. We may even add that the Serign hopes to see the Talibeh learn enough to be able to take over from him and pass the knowledge/skill on to the less learned/experienced. Man, they say, is curious by nature. Aren’t we thankful that curiosity only kills cats?

My dear Linguerites, I ask that you continue to seek knowledge. Be humble and open to new ideas. Your views may differ from other people’s, but once we learn to respect each other, we realise that we can always ‘agree to disagree’. To master a certain trade/skill/field, one needs to go through the channels of learning or apprenticeship. The duration may vary, but the results are almost always similar. Be that apprentice today who’ll live to become the Master in the future. I can (almost) guarantee that you shall end up rich in all senses of the word. Remember, the riches of the brain may be more valuable than riches of the flesh! After all ‘Learning is better than silver and gold’.

~Beh benen aljuma~ 🙂


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