Elias Estabrook senegal 2012
How do you rejuvenate yourself? I go run or kick a soccer ball around, releasing the stress from my body. I step outside into the yard to read and just listen to the city's sounds.
Singing to the Heavens
May 2, 2012
Rhythms run through the blood of the Senegalese. As much they depend on their daily dose of thiebudiene, rice and fish, or atayaa, sweet tea, seldom can you find them without music.
Radios broadcasting ensembles of drums, some full and steady, others quick and pattering — the nation’s most popular genre, mbalakh — accompany my cousins to the fields, urging them to toil on with a little more pep in their step. At weddings and baptisms it’s the proper time to dance, as women flail their arms and stomp their feet to the drumbeat and the griot’s theatrical singing. If…
How We Care for Each Other
May 2, 2012
In mid-October, the second week in my village, I caught the flu. Fatigued and dehydrated, I arrived at the local clinic, accompanied by my host father. After laying down, I proceeded to doze off. Still, I remember precisely how every few minutes, the blurriness cleared to reveal the distinct faces of members of the village who passed and peeked in to greet and comfort me, just with smiles and presence alone. I had never met most of these people, but here they were, introducing themselves and providing much needed moral support. At the time I was too weak to adequately…Read the rest »
A Whole Other World?
January 24, 2012
The endless dunes and savanna scrub pass by, as we rumble down winding, dirt roads. Yet I’m hardly aware of the landscape’s warming morning orange and spotty green; rather, I sense only the rhythmic pounding of the rocky road beneath our aging vehicle. Most of all I feel the tranquil pulse of life in the people between whom I am wedged: women wrapped in elaborate shawls, yawning men heading to work, and timid adolescent boys commuting to school.
Lulled into a daze by the movement of the van, I begin to contemplate and to daydream. If I ignore the environment…
Where We Go From Here
December 21, 2011
Tucked away in the north of Dakar surrounded by green lawns and palms trees, the Meridien President Hotel is glaringly different from the swelling, sandy neighborhoods and bustling, littered streets through which our taxi weaves. Within the five-star conference center’s halls, the environment is abuzz with the conversations and presentations by dignitaries, professors, and representatives of NGOs, tackling the complex theme of family planning. Nevertheless, outside of the hotel gates is reality: a city – and an African continent – still struggling with providing basic health care and addressing fundamental needs for family planning services. The picture outside is not…Read the rest »
A History Written in the Sands
December 12, 2011
Silhouetted against a crackling fire, the children chant. To me, the words are a song of dynamic gibberish, though I know them to be beautiful verses of the Koran. The recited text is passed around the circle of restless brothers, sisters, and cousins, one child reading at a time while the rest provide a fervent background chorus.
My toes wallow in the cool sand as I stare out at the village plaza, mesmerized and calmed by the choir. It is the same ubiquitous sand that I often run across on the endless white beach or trek through to reach neighboring…
A Language Beyond Words
October 10, 2011
Legs churning. Bodies weaving. Ball zooming. Drums beating. Voices calling. Minds rushing. The match has begun. Like the soccer stadium, Senegal is alive with football.
Without many words, the world of football has hurriedly welcomed me to a new playing field, a new environment. Similar to my general adaptation in Senegal, my first steps on to the terrain de football were slightly hesitant; I was prone to stumble. After a match on a hard, unforgiving gravel field, I literally came away with cuts and wounds on my hands and knees, evidence of how rocky initial adjustment can be. Nevertheless, I’ve…
September 26, 2011
“Alhamduliliay!” I say, with a sigh of relief, as my brother, Djibril, and I arrive at home from our long run through the dark yet lively streets of Dakar. He laughs at my Wolof, an Arabic saying meaning “Thanks be to God (Allah).” For once the power is still on at my family’s compound, a collection of four motel-like concrete houses surrounding a courtyard. Indeed, I had spent all my previous nights — after long days of class at the Baobab Center –completely in the dark, with no electricity to cool my room or keep the lights on.
Every night that…