Recent Posts

May 30, 2012

We started the third week of Study with a trip to Dakar. We began with a visit to the African Renaissance Statue finished in 2010 to celebrate the country’s 50th anniversary of independence from French colonial rule. It sits on top of a huge hill on the edge of the city overlooking the ocean. Larger than the statue of liberty and costing well over $20 million, the statue frames the skyline for a great many people living in poverty. For this reason, and others, it has been a controversial installation along with several other construction projects initiated by former leader…

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May 25, 2012

Touba

After a week of classroom lecture exploring the intersections of religion, politics and history in Senegal, we climbed back into our trusty bus and headed eastward to Touba. Touba is the holy city of Mouridism, a large Islamic Sufi brotherhood founded in 1883 by Cheikh Amadou Bamba. The city is considered sacred and constitutes an administratively autonomous zone governed by the Mouride brotherhood. Alcohol, tobacco, music and dance are forbidden in the city and despite the heat, the women in our group needed to wearlong sleeves, skirts, and headscarves.

May 13, 2012
May 13, 2012

Talibé

On Friday of our second week in Thiès, we spent the morning and afternoon with the Talibé in a variety of settings. The Talibé are boys from between three to fourteen years of age who often come from rural settings to live with a Marabout (Sufi Muslim teacher) in what is called a Daara or school. The Talibé often spend part of the day begging for alms to help support their Daara and Marabout and are also taught the Koran. In the morning we started at a small home-front kitchen run by a Costa Rican missionary family that provides the…

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May 13, 2012

Lac Rose

On Monday of our second full week in Senegal we visited Lac Rose, spent some time on the beach, and attended mass at Keur Moussa, a Catholic monastery, where we heard traditional harp-like instruments, called “kora,” in the service.

May 13, 2012

Gorée Island

We visited Gorée Island on a very hot Friday at the end of our first full week in Senegal. Gorée Island is located about 3 kilometers east of Dakar. In the past it was an important trading center and military outpost. It currently serves as a symbolic evocation of the slave trade. The one time military fort on the island has been converted into a historical museum that documents social life in the Senegalese region from the Paleolithic through the slave trade and popular resistance to French colonialism. We were accompanied on our visit by Galiné Yennon, a political geographer,…

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May 13, 2012

We spend most of our formal class time at the Centre d’Accueil, de Formation, et d’Études, or simply the C.A.F.E. The C.A.F.E. is a project of the Baptist Church in Thiès and is attached to a private Christian school called John Hoffman. We often hear the raucous bustle of students switching classes or taking recess echoing through the cement and tile hallways. It is here that we take our Wolof and French lessons at least three mornings a week, it is the main location for our formal lectures, and the departure point for most of our field trips.

April 29, 2012

On Friday we traveled from Dakar to Thiès for orientation. On Saturday evening students met their host families. This weekend, Thiès was also hosting the 50th anniversary of the Baptist Mission in Senegal. We got to attend their opening event of choral singing and dancing on Friday night. Several of the host families are associated with the Baptist Mission and you will see that one family even had a dress made for their GC student in the theme cloth for the event.  There was an all-around sense of warm, animated, eager hospitality with an underlying current of uncertain anxiety as…

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April 26, 2012

Bien Arrivé

We picked up the students around 10:00 p.m. this Thursday evening. We were a little late because our bus driver had fallen asleep, but the students were all there and so was all their luggage. They had made their way, or it had been made for them, to a holding area with several other groups of mostly white people who were standing around comfortable looking buses near the airport’s departure terminal. The students were engaged in a variety of negotiations with local well-wishers who wanted to carry their luggage and help them get to whatever destination they were looking to…

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July 28, 2010
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