Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Universal Touch

First of all, who is still.searching? I read your comments, but I don't know who you are !

So get this.
Friday night, I was standing in a sand pit watching black men in underwear roll around in the sand wrestling. Saturday, I was sitting in a luxurious garden in a Canadian guy's villa, eating bre and gouda cheese, amongst reporters/photographers from Reuters, New York Times, etc. You can have it all here, there are so many different sides to this city. It's a little destabilizing actually - because you start wondering who you want to be, and where you fit. So as I was debating these philosophical questions (having a bit of an identity crisis actually), I walked by some 7-year-old boys playing soccer on the street. I asked one of them what his name was, he said "Ronaldino" and that was it... in my flip flops and with my purse on my shoulder, i ran around with the kids, and felt great ! It's amazing what a bit of soccer can do for the soul.... No more questions of identity - i know where I belong, whether in Africa or Canada - on the soccer field !

Speaking of soccer, one of the guys from the house took me for some real soccer at the college next to where we live... and intsead of being the only white person, I was the only girl (Not so different from Canada)... and surprsingly quickly the guys got past that, and I was in there getting dirty and sweaty like the rest of them. A few notes on the soccer... the Senegalese play soccer in sand of course, with dust flying everywhere... and they play in sandals - literally plastic beach sandals... they run in them, they play in them. It's like the footwear of choice here, it's so funny ! Sometimes they have a real ball, other times it's a flat tiny thing that barely rolls... sometimes they use boulders of cement they find on the street as nets, and draw a line in the sand... anyways, it's incredible how little you need to play the game... the universal game of soccer....

A few other observations about universality... (I'm trying to make a smooth transition, but it's a bit of a stretch I know)
I remember thinking long ago how Africans have so little, but they're so much happier than we are in North America. I had this idea that in traditional societies, people have a better sense of what's important in life - they value family and togetherness, they're less concerned about money and success - and are just generally happier people.
But I think that's a bit naive. At one of the drumming ceremonies I was at, I spent some time just looking around, watching the people. There were boys bullying other boys. There were the loner kids sitting alone in the corner with no friends. There were 12-year-old girls wearing miniskirts and holter tops. There's materialism here, just like anywhere else. I guess certain aspects of human nature are simply universal.

Anyways, those are just some thoughts for the moment.
More to follow I'm sure.

1 comment:

Kamal Shaath said...

It is nice to see you writing more often.... another beautiful read.. just a little comment on materialism... if you really think about it everything is proportional to the surroundings and economy... a new Soccer ball, or a new/used pair of soccer shoes may be normal to own in North America, but on other countries these are status symbol... as well, simple things like T-shirt with a Nike logo or a soccer teams logo… can also be viewed as status symbols...
But you are right in your analysis regarding money and success; they do hold secondary place as family and togetherness in a non-monetary drive society are classified as success and pride.

You are painting a beautiful picture of Senegal in my mind... I think I am going to add it to my list of places to visit.
Take Care... and keep on writing...