Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I’m Annoyed

I am writing this entry about a week before its posting date, since I just posted today I usually like to wait a week or so between posts. A topic came to mind today that I wanted to touch on. I’m annoyed.
Not with my situation as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal or even everything that comes with being an American living abroad, but from people who lack common sense or a common courtesy for others. I will start with the small things that come with the territory and will work my way up to things that I feel should have little or no excuse, in my American point of view.
The Call to Prayer. I live in a predominately Muslim country, I get that, but is it necessary to announce the prayer over a loud speaker from the Mosque to the whole community? The first of the five daily prayers begins at 5:30AM, I know this because it wakes me up every morning. If I were living somewhere where I actually had to be at work at a descent hour I would do one of two things: 1- become really motivated and get up to workout at this time or 2- become really annoyed that a man preaching about a religion that I don’t necessarily believe in just woke me up well before a descent hour. I am guessing I would normally take the latter approach. The other prayers are scattered throughout the day depending on the position of the sun, my favorite being the 2PM call because lunch is usually served right after. I only have a real interest in changing, or diminishing the volume of the speakers, to the first Call to Prayer; I will have to start consulting the Catholics of Vélingara about this matter.
Animals being taken full advantage of. I get they are “just” animals, I hear the same argument, no matter how poor it is, in the Etats-Unis but must we treat them so poorly? We have ten year olds riding donkey carts and beating the donkeys until they have infected soars full of flies on their backs because they don’t run fast enough and goats getting chased while ironically enough their legs are tied together so they don’t run away. Have these kids ever thought that, for example, the donkey is not running fast because he doesn’t want to, is too hungry or malnourished to think about any type of physical labor, or is purposely running slow to stick it to the man. I like to this he is proving a point with the last argument no matter how many whips it gets him.
Women being exploited just as much as animals. They work all day cleaning, cooking, chasing bratty kids, grocery shopping and who knows what else while their husbands sit around under trees and drink tea. Of course not all men are this lazy but 99.9% of men in this country, I am convinced, would not survive if women went on strike. If they did survive they would be dirty and even more mal nourished than they already are. Women’s rights are a whole other can of worms that I don’t have the time to get into in this one blog post, and there are in fact entire NGO’s that base all of their work on this one topic, but for now, for me, it helps to recognize just how unequal women are in the rest of the world. Maybe I can start a movement? A Women Strike for Rights day all over Africa. Stay tuned in your local papers.
People translating things into English when I tell them I understand, both in French and Pulaar. When I say that I understand it is because of one of two things: 1- I really do understand or 2- I don’t really care what you’re talking about and want to move the conversation along. I understand the phrase “tu compris?” is a normal part of conversation but it is annoying. In English, or at least in the US, if you ask someone if they “understand” during normal conversation you are almost implying that you are speaking of something that is over their head.  It can be an insult; and if you ask it multiple times in the same conversation, well it’s really an insult. I’m not dumb. I get it. If I don’t get it I will let you know.
Psst. Psst. That little mouth buzz used to get someone’s attention in a really annoying way. It’s a normal and acceptable way to get someone’s attention in Senegal. Yes I have a name, yes they know it, but do they use it? Of course not! I am on a mission to prove a point and ignore all the little psst’s that I get now. If you would like to speak to me find another way of getting my attention, like using my name I so politely told you, in your native tongue. Get it?
The not so subtle action of pointing out westerners. I say westerners because that is what it was translated to me as, but we all know that when people say Toubob they are meaning white person, not American. Now I understand that we have had a difficult past on the topic of race in the states and it is even a delicate subject until this day but is it really necessary to yell Toubob when someone walks down the street? Where are the parents to these children and why do more people not correct them that is in simply rude to call someone by their race. I don’t say “hey black kid!” I don’t want to sounds like an old person talking about their mother land but if I were in the states it would be frowned upon and someone would be offended by these comments based purely on race. And this is opening up a whole other can of worms but an older man actual said to me tonight that he did not like white people until “they elected Barack Obama as their president”. Now that he knows that white people accept black people he likes them more. WHAT? The best part about it was my brother thought that it was great he liked whites now. I was sure to give my opinion; It’s not right that the only reason he likes whites was because of the election and that kids go around yelling Toubob and nobody says anything. And people think Americans have issues with race? I asked why Senegal has never had a white president, even know I know its because you have to actually have white people living in the country to have a white president, I thought it would make for a good debate. I think I proved a good point.
This post was not meant to be negative, even though clearly I went down that path, but more of a venting session. These were the things that bothered me about Senegal, African Culture, basic gender rights, everything I guess. Some things mentioned need to be changed while others just need to be accepted as a part of life.  



A French Connection Copyright © 2011 -- Template created by O Pregador -- Powered by Blogger