Traveling from Senegal to Italy, during Coronavirus time
People from Senegal call it the “Land of Teranga”, which in the local language means welcome, hospitality, openness to others, shared daily life, exchange of emotions and smiles. If we add the delicious tea à la menthe (mint tea) and the rhythm of the djembé (the typical goblet drum), Senegal presents itself like something simple, genuine and warm.
“I have chosen Senegal because the desire to get closer to the African continent was so great, despite the awareness of the unexpected that I could have met, with a DIY trip and the French language that I don’t know so well known. The black continent frightens, but I don’t consider Senegal dangerous: I have been conquered by its contrasts, slow but chaotic rhythms at the same time, by the natural kindness of those who don’t have much, but want to share what they have with others. I have left Turin on February 20th, to “live” in twenty days places and people of this fantastic country, despite the difficulties in traveling over a land with many problems, from pollution, to bad hygiene conditions, where children are forced to work from an early age.
You immediately realize this aspect when you arrive at Dakar airport and you see dirt everywhere mixed with smells, but the smiling people met on the street, on a ramshackle bus, in a collective taxi between two gigantic maman, on the beach between cows and vultures or at the very crowded fish market, make you forget the degraded scenario and the fullness of daily life in Senegal literally overwhelms you. Africa, and Senegal above all, are countries devoted to sharing, even in the taste of some typical traditional dishes, very simple but tasty, that people used to share with others at the table or more easily sitting on the ground.
Children of Senegal are incredible, they surrounded me, some with torn rags and some even naked, all attracted by “the white man” putting his hand in the cloth bag, looking for the precious gift: one of the colorful pens by 101CAFFE’! In Senegal children are everywhere, they are so many and often they are around you, looking for candies, pens, notebooks, photographs, words. Everyone wants to shake your hand, to be noticed and they are always smiling at you. When they smile and speak, they give off life, energy, tenderness. It is difficult for us to put together their joy with the precariousness of people lives in this part of the world, but it must be a very important warning to bring back on return.