Welcome to Africa! Please feel free to keep in touch with me through this site. I'll be posting pictures and stories of my time in Africa. Drop in every once in a while and leave a message. See you in 2008. All comments on this site are solely the opinions of Paul Powers. They do not express the opinions of the United States, the Republic of Senegal, the Peace Corps or any governmental affiliation.
Near my village there’s a tree. This tree is THE tree for my villagers and surrounding villages. This tree not only has umph….it has a really old and traditional myth associated with its existence. The locals all believe the tree belongs to a cranky genie. In American culture, one is expected to rub a shiny lamp to bring about a magical genie to grant you your 3 wishes. In Senegalese culture, one is expected to be outside of your house during the hours of 1pm-3pm and a little peek-a-boo at 7pm-8pm to bring about our supernatural friends. Ah, but of course genies here in Africa are naturally soul-eaters. During those hours, we don’t leave our family compound in fear of losing our souls. Even though all of it is a load of BS aimed at keeping the children at bay, the adults still avoid going out during those times as well. It’s all about tradition, and a huge ass hollowed out tree that our neighbor Babacar the Soul-Eating Genie resides. (I have pictures)
I’ve noticed that people in my village are addicted to over-the-counter medicine. It really doesn’t matter if they’re sick or not. They need it. It also doesn’t matter what kind of medicine they ask for. They’ll take anything, especially if it’s free. Most people use the sore back excuse until I tell them I don’t have anything for that. Then they ask what I do have and suddenly they have stomach issues. Truthfully I think they love the taste of my Peptobismol. It’s the closest thing to candy that they’re going to get. Thank God I don’t have any of that delicious candy coated Advil.
It took me a long time to learn the word for alcohol. Since this is a Muslim society nobody uses the term. I on the other hand love the word and wish I had more of it from time to time. The word for alcohol is the same for every language here in Senegal, but was created by the Sereers. They call it sangara. I thought the origin of this word was interesting enough to write about and share with all of you. During the French colonization here in West Africa many things were exported from Europe to meet the living standards of Frenchmen living abroad. Alcohol existed for many years before the colonization of Senegal, but nobody here had ever experienced the goods. A wealthy merchant by the name Jean was the sole source for importing sangara to rich industrialists and opportunity seekers alike. During that time the Sereer people held the power over all the other ethnic groups, even the current leadership- the Wolofs. The Sereer King dealt a lot with the French, especially with imports and exports (later it became the export of slaves to Europe and the Americas).
In April someone stole my African mother’s cow. This sucks since it was my family’s only one. It really sucks because now the rains have come and we’ve been planting our crops. Instead of using a nice sturdy cow to help in our endeavors, we’re stuck with a half-blind albino horse and a donkey who’d rather try taking the skin off your shins than even thinking about working for the man.