Little white girl – part III

or
What’s the best about Senegaleese Culture?

Chapter IIs my White Colored Skin a cultural appropriation ?
Chapter II- Feeling black in a white body

-Na nga def? (How are you?)
Magnifii rekk, dieuerudieuf. (Well, thank you)



Photo by JD Mason on Unsplash

Slowly, after getting use to being a married woman, i discover that living with someone talking a language different than French or English was a challenge of its own. None the less, the whole culture!

My husband and i were used to invite friends over or go to Senegaleese friends for dinner. Although, i soon discover that inviting a couple transformed quickly into 20 people as it meant inviting the whole community that was present in this small city. When we were having Senegaleese diners with other Senegaleeses of the Community and with some French Canadian friends, most of them being the girlfriends of the male ones, the French Speakers soon started to feel unwelcomed since the only language spoken when having big discussions was Wolof.

Some French Quebekers friends came to me and asked me  »what’s the point of being part of the dinner if we are left outside of the conversion? ». From my own point of view, I tried to explain to them that probably the Senegaleeses were mostly happy to be able to talk to each other in their own language and not having to use the language of Colonisation. The answer back was quick :

 »If they don’t want to continue the French Colonisation, then why choosing to come to school in a French City in Canada? They could go anywhere in the world to study in any language they want! »

In order to find a solution, I decided to talk to my Husband, Zoome, to see what was his point of view on that matter.

Once i shared the main complain, Zoome quickly answered that we were not in any obligation to come to these dinners. It sounded all but politically correct as an answer to me. I asked him if he was serious about what he was saying, and for sure he was. What a deception. My message was not passing, since there was no good exit to this communication. No one was winning. But i kept at it. I am a resilient person in most difficulties i came to encounter in my life.

I decided to use other situations (let’s hear here, other parties, or dinners with people from different communities, some were from Maghred and from Latin America) to give him a better understanding of what was happening. I asked him how he would feel if some of the friends who invited him at parties would left him out of conversations where he was invited. Being hosted, yet feeling rejected because you could not exchange with anyone since he was not include in the discussions or jokes.
Mentionning the jokes aspect quickly made him understand my point of view. What’s a joke if no one understand its language or its metaphore? No public, No commun language, no public, no fun. We finaly agreed that from time to time, at the next dinners, he would translate the main topic of what the discussion was about so the hosted could at least follow up the conversations and be able to jump into it with their point of view if they wished to. So was the inclusion of the French Friends into the Senegaleese circles.

That topic was never talked about again because this is how it worked from now on and it worked well enough. Everyone was happier. And the hosts kepted inviting the Quebekers to dinners for Thieboudienne, the Yassa or Maffè. My favorite dish is the Thieb made with fish and prepared by the hands of someone who knows how to do it. I have received guidance for the special receipe, however i did not succeed in making it properly, or to appropriate the receipe to my own taste as i did for the Yassa for example that i prepare specially when i have my home garden tomatoes ripe and juicy.

If by the way you did not click just yet on those links above, please do so as it will reveal you the secrets ingredients of these marvelous meals. If you are looking for the spices, i can suggest you to look online for the African shops in your town and go for it. If looking for advise on how to use the spices, ask the casheer or even best, get some advise from a Senegaleese Friend or even better, invite a Senegaleese Friend to dinner or for some cooking lessons!

Now I am wondering how are youngers generations getting their information about that same topic,

They have not been into slavery, yet they claim it as of their roots

Little White Girl – part II

Little white girl II or Feeling black in a white body

How did I come to feeling black inside my white body?

monochrome photo of woman sleeping on ground
Photo de Xi Xi sur Pexels.com

Him – « What’s your name, beautiful one? » says the tall black man meeting the little white girl at the University student coffee shop.

Her – « Why do you want to know my name for? » The question made her feel inconfortable. What came next was even worst.

Him – « Because I love you! »

He seemed sincere yet his answer, for some reasons, felt like a trap.

Her – « But you don’t know me, how can you love me already! » She was used at men starring at her but not so much with this new style at being so flirtatious and direct.

Him – « Quite simple! Because I love the color of your skin! I also love the way you walk with so much determination as if you know exactly where you are going all the time! »

Her – « That does not make sense at all! How about we become friends and i interview you for a radio program i lead with Desjardins at the University Students Radio Station? I want to know about your life in Senegal and how it feels like to land in North America to study : Rimouski instead of New york or Boston must be a shock, no?. »

We started planning the interview and I soon learned that as a recipient of the Francophony Grants, for his master degree, he was not allowed to choose where he wanted to study nor the exact program he wanted to do. He wanted to study vegetal biology but there was no such programs in Rimouski where they sent him. Apparently, the recepients were divided between a certain amount of French Canadian Universities where they could pick up a program that was the closest to what they wanted. Since one has the chance to study in Canada, why argue about the location and the program? So Rimouski, Québec it was going to be for this young man.

I could not imagine what it was like to live on a continent like Africa, or may be just a bit because i had visited Morroco and seen how people in villages in the mountains or country side lived. Traveling on the back of mules, or using camels, they could cross a road no much faster then 10 km per hour, but it was a steady rythm. I had had a sense of the Arabic World, yet this was far from the Black World. Such was my limited thoughs on the subject then.

After a couple of months of more flirtatious behaviours and a kisses stolen one night at a Univeristy party, he asked me to marry him because in his culture, he said, it was not allowed to be involved with a woman without being married.

I had my doubts. Internet did not exist then to ask questions to Mr Google, Siri or Alexa, i could only rely on others who had a better glimpse at these cultures. I asked him if he really was willing to get married for that or because he wanted to have his papers to stay in Canada.

«May be you just need a sponsor and are to shy to ask me directly to sponsor you?» I asked.

He could have not say no to this. Instead, he said : «If this is what you are thinking, you are free to think what you want » How agile of him and poor thinking of me.

I understood that it was the case and married him. This was the start of my life getting transfiguring from being a white woman feeling black inside. The feeling lasted for 25 years so far, even after we got divorce 6 and half years after the civil wedding. This experience gave me a view from inside a black community leaving in a majority white community further north east of Québec City, Rimouski.

What one can do in the name of « LOVE »…

I gave this man the best of myself, of my youth, of my soul, of my intimity and of my culture and ideas. Especially this last one. Although he denied the life we created together by aborting it, he made it clear he was only interested in pursuing his faith for becoming a celebrity as such as his Aunt had predicted him. From my 27th year old high, I told him all about the unicity of French Canadian, the fabric of what make us different from the rest of Canada (ROC). I do write these texts now in English for a reason, dont be fouled by me…

If i have contaminated him with my culture, so did he with his. This marriage was a failure from the begginning as it was based on accessing to papers and to create a family. However i did the best i could to understand how i could weave our cultures to become a happier couple. Of course, the basic was communication, but isn’t it the case for most young couples with no experience in sharing a commun life and space? Today, i concluded the real failure of the common life we had to a lack of enthouiam from him to be part of our team as it needs t obe two to tango.
This is the second rock on my road on the quest of cultural knowledge. Of course, i did not know it then as i had no distance from all that I was living.
From my side, i was a very ambitious woman with dream of traveling and discover the world and a civil status was the less of my worry then! I was told once by a dear Friend, Andrée, the mother of one of my teenage friend, that as a woman, if i wanted to be free it started with money : I needed to become indepent and autonomous without thinking that husband would pay for what i wanted. I thank her today for her shared wisdom. I miss her as well, her advises, her intellectual and curious mind. Of course, my mom was a perfect example of a working woman beeing freer with her money. But this will be an other chapter of my story to come.