Teranga: Understanding Senegal

By Dr. Pamela Rader, Chair & Associate Professor of English 

I have confided in my students, who have read Léopold Sédar Senghor’s treatise on Négritude and Mariama Bâ’s novella in my classes, that I have wanted to visit Senegal in west Africa for many years now.  The Global Transformation Grant made this trip possible. I participated in an International Faculty Development Seminar (IFDS) with the Council for International Educational Exchange led by Dr. Serigne Ndiaye in Dakar. Dr. Ndiaye organized the seminar around the topic of Islam in Senegal, bringing in top notch scholars from Dakar and the University of Gaston Berger from Saint-Louis (a city near the Mauritanian border). The seminar provided me and my four US-based colleagues with foundations for understanding the Sufi brotherhoods practicing Islam in Senegal. With Dr. Ndiaye’s purposeful planning, we visited several holy sites in Cambérène and Touba, and various Koranic/Qur’anic schools whose philosophies were as diverse as their resources (or lack thereof). Invited into several homes of these hard working  people, I remain deeply moved by the warmth of the Senegalese and their genuine hospitality, or teranga (the Wolof word).

Idriss worked for Fabinta’s mother as a tailor/dressmaker.

Idriss worked for Fabinta’s mother as a tailor/dressmaker.

 

We visited several Koranic schools; these girls were friendly and curious. We conversed in French, and they invited me to visit their classroom.

We visited several Koranic schools; these girls were friendly and curious. We conversed in French, and they invited me to visit their classroom.

Touba is a fast-growing city for its great mosque. Here, we have people traveling by horse/burro drawn cart.

Touba is a fast-growing city for its great mosque. Here, we have people traveling by horse/burro drawn cart.

 I am donning the veil in Camberène, a holy site for the Mouridist brotherhood on the outskirts of Dakar.


I am donning the veil in Camberène, a holy site for the Mouridist brotherhood on the outskirts of Dakar.

My US colleagues and I were interviewed by a young woman on behalf of the Saint Louis, Senegal, journal “Lasignare.com”.

My US colleagues and I were interviewed by a young woman on behalf of the Saint Louis, Senegal, journal “Lasignare.com”.

 

ironing at Goree

 

The two pictures from Goree Island show a woman ironing in the street; that island, a short ferry ride from Dakar, had been without electricity during our visit. Dakar school children of all ages were visiting the island that day, too. A field trip to learn about the country’s past and role in slavery. (Gorée preserves a UNESCO World Heritage site of the Slave House, where Africans sold and traded Africans into slavery.

The two pictures from Goree Island show a woman ironing in the street; that island, a short ferry ride from Dakar, had been without electricity during our visit. Dakar school children of all ages were visiting the island that day, too. A field trip to learn about the country’s past and role in slavery. (Gorée preserves a UNESCO World Heritage site of the Slave House, where Africans sold and traded Africans into slavery.

One thought on “Teranga: Understanding Senegal

  1. S.Kamisha Parson

    peace and blessings! this is so heartwarming for me to see these pictures. i am aware of both my islamic and african history through the preserved culture of senegal. it is wonderful when visitors to any country can see the beauty of the land through the integrity of its people. i hope that more of these ventures can take place since the world as we now know it is increasingly becoming smaller due to travel and exchanges between nations and counties. The Holy Quran has a verse in it which summarizes this exchanges: “O mankind, we created you from a single (pair) of a male and female and made you into nations and tribes that ye may know each other (not despise each other). Chapter/Surah Hujirat-verse/ayyat 13 Yusuf Ali translation. the pictures of the professor permeates with respect and appreciation.

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