Agence Future Travel log 3.3: Africa - Thies and St-Louis
We drove the 70 kilometers from Dakar to Thies in the cars of two Belgian ex-pats living in Dakar. They took us to the family of young friends we had already met on some of the musical nights out we had enjoyed in Dakar.
It was the day of Tabaski. By the time we arrived, the sheep had been slaughtered and the food was being prepared. Little kids played around the court yard and the bigger kids as well as the grown ups tested our bycicles.
In the days after the celebration, the oldest son of the family, Mamadou, and his best friend, Matar, told us about the role of communication and information technology in their lives. They had learned the basics of computer literacy and Mamadou was looking for a wife on the internet while Matar landed a dreamjob in the capital for which IT skills were needed.
In Saint-Louis, we were staying with another young man's family. Mor Diop knows computers quite well. He has studied to be a video technician, a job he is proud to be practicing at the University of Dakar. His father had made great efforts to let all his sons, and even his daughters, study. Some of them became mechanics, others worked in a local shop or at the sugar factory further inland. The daughters would marry and become housewifes but at least they would speak French, unlike their sisters in law (the wives of the older brothers) with whom communication was not easy for us. Mor's ambition for the future was to continue and specialise in his job, marry his girlfriend and take her with him to the captital. His older brother Arun wanted to be a businessman while several of his younger brothers' main ambition was to go to Europe to work.
Saint-Louis treated us to an unexpected insight into international marketing: one evening a truck arrived in the popular neighbourhood where Mor's family lives. It brought in a stage, some scaffolding, panels and loudspeakers. Music and a rapping duo seemed to announce a musical party that night. But none of it, this was to be an advertising stunt.
The last of the products promoted here was Western Union. In a little amateur sketch the benefits of the Money Transfer business were explained in no uncertain terms. The main point being that if your big brother lives in Europe, he can send you the money for your Tabaski sheep with Western Union. You'll be able to buy a beautiful ram and will not have to make do with a meagre goat - thanks to WU and your brother who is working hard in Italy. The evening was closed of with a mass of adolescents rhythmically shouting in Wolof, the national language of Senegal: WES-TERN U-NI-ON FOR MO-NEY TRANS-FERS. Good stuff for sociologists.
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