“You will get played, sis!”

Reading Time: 5 mins

Ramata: I can’t believe this. That &%#@? played me!

Binette: Are you surprised though, sis? You saw all the signs coming…

Ramata: You’re right, I can’t even lie. But still! I had it under control.

Binette: There’s no such thing, girl. You try to control too much.

Ramata: Damn, when do we get to the part where you comfort me?

Binette: Oh, my bad haha! You know you my girl. I just hate that this happened after how much we talked about it. This dating game ain’t no joke.

Ramata: Well, that’s the first problem. Why is it a game in the first place?

Binette: And that’s your first problem – not knowing it’s a game. Girl, stop playing.

Ramata: It’s not that. It’s just… I gave everything to this relationship and I still got played.

Binette: Listen, there’s a million ways this could have gone. And a good majority of the scenarios would have probably left you in the same position. It’s inevitable for that first heartbreak.

Ramata: It doesn’t make it hurt any less.

Binette: I know, baby. But you got me and we gon get through this together! I got you!

So, this probably resonated with you to some degree. Without even knowing why Ramata is heartbroken, a good number of us women (and men) have “been there, done that.” We’ve had that traumatizing heartbreak that plays a pivotal role in our future relationships and outlook on life. And nothing is more memorable than that first heartbreak — that physical pain in your chest that prevents you from enjoying your food, being social, or even engaging in self care sometimes. Side note: shoutout to the Binette’s in our lives that help us navigate these challenging times.

The harsh reality is that dating is risky. When you decided to date, you also take on a number of possibilities: the possibility that you could fall madly in love with someone who reciprocates; the possibility that you could get your heart shredded into a million pieces; the possibility that your partner will love you tenderly in the beginning then turn into a monster once you’re settled in the relationship; the possibility that you, or your partner, might die and leave the other alone; the possibility that you would want to start a family with the love of your life but can’t and that might cause a drift in your relationship. The possibilities are truly endless and you won’t know what’s to come…until it’s right in front of you. That’s scary.

This fear of the unknown (or sometimes known for those of us that have experienced it before) is debilitating for some. It stops them in their tracks when it comes to pursuing love because it’s just too risky. But let me tell you this: you will get played, sis. No matter what route you choose, life has a way of teaching you certain lessons and I for one truly believe in Prophet Muhammad’s teaching “the pages have dried and the pens have been lifted” (Hadith 19). What’s meant to be for you has been written long ago so there’s no need to live in fear. I repeat, you will get played, no doubt. But there are beautiful lessons buried within those less than pleasant experiences in our lives. There’s no shame in “getting played” because it speaks more to the person doing the playing than the one “getting played.” Deceitful and hurtful people will eventually show their true colors so there’s absolutely no need to dwell on their immature behavior; what matters is that mandatory COMEBACK!

The comeback:

When you do get played – I can’t say it enough because you will – be sure to take the time to feel. It’s needed to be just be human and acknowledge what happened to you. Feel the salt. Feel the embarrassment. Feel the anger. Process your emotions and when you’re done, get back up and try again. Coming from a hopeless romantic, I can tell you there’s a doubly sweet feeling when you’ve been in the trenches and finally get it right. It’s a satisfying feeling knowing that the pain wasn’t in vain. That your past doesn’t define your future – it just influences it. We can’t erase the past and pretend it never happened. That would be dangerous because then we’re at risk of committing the same mistakes. We actually need to embrace that fear, pain, embarrassment, and anger and turn them into lessons. Get smarter about how you invest your feelings/time and try again. Make a comeback.

Now, there’s a way to make a comeback in my mind. Have you ever seen a woman go through a traumatic breakup and cut her hair? Or change up her style completely. Or change her inner circle? Or just change the way she walks? Yeah, that’s because she’s leveled up. She’s made a concerted effort to move on from the experience that hurt her. She’s decided to give it another shot and I think that’s beautiful. That’s the beauty in living – harnessing the possibilities and facing life head on!

The title of this piece was taken from a friend of mine who said this in relation to giving other young girls advice. I lowkey felt attacked when she said it because I was like “well damn, just read me why don’t you haha!” But it’s so true. It’s just the way it is and we can’t do anything but be smart and aware about it. Accepting that getting your heart broken or bruised is just part of life makes you more equipped to deal with it when it happens. I saw a post on Instagram about how getting your first heartbreak early on is actually better so your future relationships can benefit from the lessons learned – and so your heart won’t ever get broken as badly again. While I agree with the first part of that statement, I don’t think getting your heart broken early makes future heartbreaks less painful. I think it just makes you understand what you’re experiencing better. But because love is all about risks, I have to say that it doesn’t make future heartbreaks any less painful. There are high school sweethearts who experience heartbreak at 50 and it hurts just as badly as the 18 year old experiencing it for the first time. There is someone who experienced a heartbreak at 22 and again at 38 and it all hurt equally bad. That’s just the way it is.

As always with pieces like this, I like to solicit personal stories from fellow women brave enough to share so here we go.

Story Time

The question options were: (1) Have you ever had your heart broken? (2) If so, what did you learn from it? (3) How old were you? (4) What would you tell your younger self?

Woman 1: I would tell myself that it’s okay – the guy was ugly anyways!

Woman 2: Learn who someone is before you fall in love/get attached. I am still learning because I’m hardheaded.

Woman 3: Be straightforward with the person you are dealing with and be on the same page. The reason why I said be straight forward and on the same page is : sometimes we meet someone and we like them right on and failed to sit down and have a talk with them. You end up falling for a person who didn’t know what he wants or what he looking for but decided to go with the flow. Now here you are dealing with someone who has no feelings for you but wants you and won’t leave you. You can’t ask questions because you are afraid to mess things up now that you are comfortable having him around. Meanwhile, he is looking at the one he really wants and trying to get with her. My advice to my younger self would be : be upfront, let the person know how you feel and what you want. Be true to your feelings. From the beginning let the other person know, if they can’t deal with it let them go and you won’t go through the pain and the anger and the depression of losing someone who wasn’t holding on to you at all.

Woman 4: I would tell my younger self that the best thing you can do is just start and not overthink things.

Woman 5: Don’t trust a single soul. &%#@? ain’t loyal. I was 21.

Woman 6: I have been heartbroken 3 times in life.

Man 1: I would tell my younger self to have patience and not stress out.

Dating as a Senegalese-American Woman

Reading Time: 7 mins

Preface: this will be clunky. There’s just so much to be said!

Ladies, I’m going to start this post off with a question: have you ever talked to your parents about dating? Like at what age would you be allowed to have a boyfriend? What were the boundaries once you did start dating? When you first fell in love, or your first heartbreak, or who or what was off limits?

Let me guess, the answer to all of those questions for a majority of us is THE CONVERSATION NEVER HAPPENED and if it did, it was very short and off-target.

Let me ask you a different set of questions: were you expected to bring home the perfect guy as soon as you graduated college? Are your parents pressuring you now that you’re over 25yo and unmarried? Do all conversation roads somehow lead to the fact that you’re still single, if you are, or that you need to have kids, if you haven’t already, or shoot, have more if you “only” have one or two?

I find it interesting that we go from being seen as little girls and seldom have in-depth conversations with our Senegalese parents, namely our moms, to being expected to have it all figured out almost overnight.

Okay, one last question: has your mom ever talked to you about sex? Even after marriage, I bet the answer is no and if she did, I bet it was very passive and awkward.

Our dear parents/moms – they’ve always wanted what’s best for us, even in their blatant obliviousness to what the dating scene in America offers today. Contrary to what they might think, yes, their daughters are dating before marriage. And get this, they’re dating non-Senegalese men too (gasp)!

Today’s topic: Dating as a Senegalese-American Woman

The reality is we’re dating and we’re dating actively. Meaning when one relationship doesn’t work out, we are learning lessons and we aren’t afraid to try again. And we’re not afraid to wait as long as it takes to figure our shit out. I mean, we’re getting our asses kicked yet we keep at it! We’re all trying to learn about ourselves, our preferences, our boundaries, our deal-breakers, our turn-ons and turn-offs (yes, I said it). We’re taking control of who our partners will be, experimenting, and meticulously taking notes along the way. Our poor mothers don’t even know that we each have a “type.”

Okay, but more seriously though, the phenomenon of dating as Senegalese-American women is very real. The days of our parents picking a spouse for us are over. The days of marrying our cousins are [starting to be] long gone (there are still those of us who deal with this pressure). The days of not knowing and loving your partner – because they say jigeen dou beug, day miin (loosely translated to “a woman doesn’t love, she gets acclimated”) – are truly over. Or at least they should be.

This is probably a good place to interject with the Islamic disclaimer. I did a simple Google search on dating in Islam and will summarize my findings here. Courtship is allowed in Islam, meaning “dating” within specific boundaries to prevent Zina, or fornication. Dating in the modern sense is not allowed – e.g. you cannot be alone with your partner, no kissing, no touching, etc. – you get the picture. That’s the short version; if you’re looking for the long version, consult your local Imam 🙂

Getting back to the topic…growing up in America, there are a lof things we see as the norm and to be frank, dating is one of them. As people are generally getting married later in life, it’s hard to remain single up until the point you’re ready to marry. And quite frankly, dangerous. Some of us are not marrying until our late twenties and you can imagine how many lessons missed and opportunities not harnessed there are in that scenario. In the past, your spouse “could” be selected for you and everything work out “just fine.” There were families ties, traditions, and rules to be upheld. The thought of even straying from the boundaries our parents placed were slim to none, especially when you take into account the geographical limitations of women rarely living away from home. A typical scenario in Senegal might look like this: young girl grows up alongside her parents, may or may not finish school, is set up with a close or distant family member as soon as they deem her ready to marry. She may or may not go back to school depending on how her husband feels about that but you can bet your life that her life will take a complete turn as she transitions from youthfulness to the “cours des grands” (big leagues).

Well, today, that narrative is different. A typical scenario in the US may look like this: a young Senegalese-American woman grows up having dreams of who she wants to be, focusing on finding genuine friendships, and building a life around her. Her husband may not come into that picture until laterrrrr down the line and he certainly won’t be the center of her life’s attention. And that’s not to say that she values marriage or loves her partner any less. It’s just that that’s not at the forefront of her desires – or value as a woman. That’s also not to say that young girls in Senegal do not have big dreams. It’s just that the societal pressures weigh differently in those two contexts and the dreams of young girls in Senegal are often cut short to fulfill the ultimate destiny of being a good wife. Wouldn’t you too succumb to that gigantic pressure that corners you at every turn you take?

So you can imagine the Senegalese-American women dating scene: experimental, trial-and-error, and very fluid. Yes, we’re dating within and outside of our race/culture/ethnicity and we’re having a blast doing it. Do we get stung along the way, YES! But nonetheless, we’re much more free to explore our options and come to our own conclusions and to be honest, I love that. Even when things don’t work out, it’s reassuring knowing that you played a part in what happened to you. Proportionately , it’s disheartening to feel like life happened to you and you had no say – you were just a victim.

And that’s the root of this conversation. Women are no longer victims of bad marriages that they were forced into. They’re active participants in their own love lives – by dating and figuring out for themselves what they want and don’t want. I would call that amazing progress.

Growing up in a traditional Senegalese household, this was my understanding of dating: I was sort of allowed to after a certain, undisclosed age, but only at a surface level. I wasn’t expected to never have a boyfriend but the how was strictly under control. I was supposed to stay pure, have lots of dignity, and never falter, all the way to the point until I found my husband – or he found me as they would say. I wasn’t allowed to let them see any sign of niak fay da (lack of a backbone) in my face and God forbid I disobey Allah in the process (which was a whole contraction in and of itself based on the summary I provided earlier). Let me tell you right now that that’s not how my experience went. And based on responses from the lovely ladies who responded to my Instagram prompt, the story is the same for many. We faltered, made mistakes, got our hearts broken, and looked “niak fayda” on more than one occasion. And that’s okay! We’re human beings and we’re experiencing normalcy.

I strongly encourage dating responsibility, and sometimes otherwise, to truly learn about ourselves and our partners. In a perfect world, we would be able to blindly follow the advice of our parents and hope it all works out. Unfortunately, we are not in a perfect world so better safe than sorry.

Remember when I said we’re getting our asses kicked? Well, it’s Dating Horror Stories Time!

I asked my Instagram Senegalese-American female followers to share some dating stories with me and here are some samplers:

Story 1: “I love Senegalese men, but I also detest part of their mindsets when it comes to women.”

Story 2: “Dating is annoying. A majority of men are too headstrong/difficult. They ooze toxic masculinity.”

Story 3: It’s complicated. Ni**as be looking for a come up, not a girlfriend or a wife.”

Story 6: “Dating a Senegalese man is hard and complicated. And Senegalese men in American are a different breed!”

There you have it! Looks like we’re all getting a piece of the pie!

Devil’s Advocate (but not really): Marrying early protects women

This is going to be short. I always think about how many Senegalese women did everything right and still ended up getting played! Sorry to be so blunt but damn ! Like our moms tried to demonstrate the right way of doing things and I personally still see so many missed opportunities and heartbreaks! So I don’t know about you, but I am in favor of dating and figuring out what will work and what won’t work. Even with the horror stories, the ladies I talked to would rather get played, because we all do – more to come on that in another post – and eventually find our Prince Charming than be stuck with the choices of others. For those of us that are Muslim, we’d love to be courted and do things the right way…as soon as the Muslim men around us start adhering to that definition. Culture dominates in the dating scene in Senegalese society unfortunately so we’re left to fend for ourselves so we don’t end up in broken marriages, sleeping next to the enemy.

Work-Life Balance during a pandemic

3 minutes to read

The last year and a half have been intense to say the least. I always aspired to have a greater work-life balance and I thought working from home would enable that. I was wrong, point blank. My personal and professional lives have merged into one: in the boundaries of my room where I have my bed and my work desk. I go from my bed to my desk and back, each and every single day. It’s absolutely draining and redundant.

So, not the perkiest of intros but humor me. Do any of these statements resonate with you?

  • I feel like I don’t have enough time in the day to accomplish everything I need to.
  • I don’t feel fulfilled, no matter how much I get done.
  • I abandon my personal feelings/boundaries often to get things done at work.
  • By the time I finish work, I don’t have any more energy to do anything for myself.
  • I hate my job.
  • I have lost motivation/energy for things I used to enjoy doing.
  • I feel alone.
  • I want something different.

I could go on and on about how I have been feeling for the last year. I’m not deliberately trying to be a Debbie Downer but it truly feels never-ending. I know it’s partially due to just being in a very new place in my life but it’s also due to the pandemic. Being home more has not made me happier or “have more time.” It’s only blurred the lines between the different commitments I have.

Trying to “achieve” a better work-life balance is where we went wrong in the first place. The fact that we have gotten to a point where work has taken over so much of our lives that we have to try to fit life into it is problematic. It should be the other way around. This emphasis/correlation between work and success is threatening the personal happiness, mental health, and emotional fulfillment of many. And I wouldn’t say this is a problem that the pandemic brought along with it; it’s just that the pandemic (and working from home) has exacerbated these circumstances, making it harder and harder to peel away from the related anxiety and stress.

Recently, I read my dear friend’s article on her blog, Haniya Khalid (WFH Tips: Mental Health & Productivity – Haniya Khalid) and I must say, the tips helped. Because I was feeling confined to my room all day, the two that I found really helpful were making my bed every day and delineating between spaces for different tasks. I made my bed in the past but not intentionally. I would tidy up and call it a day. But actually taking the time to make my bed, position my pillows, turn on a candle or spray some room spray has tremendously helped me start my day. It’s a major accomplishment as soon as I wake up and I automatically feel more motivated. Subsequently, I don’t touch my bed again all day. I delineate spaces and utilize more of my apartment. I eat in my living room now, work only at my desk (unless I’m on a call while making breakfast/lunch, in which case I just use my phone), watch tv in the living room, etc. I highly recommend reading Haniya’s article (and her whole blog site) if you are feeling like you could use a refresher on setting boundaries!

I personally thought the pandemic and confinement living would end with 2020. But here we are in June 2021 and we’re still dealing with some of the same, prolonged issues. Things are slowly opening back up and that’s great but the feeling of exile doesn’t just go away. I still feel like there’s so much to do to get out of that funk so I’m going to keep trying and keep moving! I hope Haniya’s article and this one helps you step away for a second and reflect on how solitary living and dealing with working from home during a pandemic can take a toll on us – and what we can do about it!

What it means to be a feminist…to me.

** I am speaking from MY point of view. I do not speak for all feminists as that would be impossible. I would love to hear what feminism means to you, woman, or man. Let’s discuss. **

Being a feminist in Senegalese society can sometimes be the equivalent of a Scarlet Letter. The term is so tainted and honestly, there’s not even much room to explain what you mean by “I’m a feminist.” People automatically write you off as one or all the following:

  • A man hater
  • Someone who wants to be free to do whatever they want and can.
  • A sexually liberated person who just wants to taxawaalu (roam free)
  • You want to stray from your culture’s “traditional values.”

One statement I find myself saying often is: “giving women equal rights does not mean revoking any rights from men.” I said this to justify being a feminist and almost to ease the minds of the many men (and women) who have a problem with feminism in Senegalese society. I was apologizing for the very thing I stand for. The statement should really read: giving women equal rights … or better yet women having equal rights. Period. Not having it given to us as that implies it can be taken back at any point.

When I started the blog Elle parle, enfin, I started with short stories about fictional (but very much realistic) Senegalese women. I wanted to show women in a more empowered light, with a voice, even when some of the stories showed the too-often-seen scenario of women being marginalized in our society. Today, I want to get to the crux of this blog by just flat out writing about feminism in Senegalese society and my view on the topic. I will do so by starting to unpack the statements above.

A Man Hater

Feminists do not hate men (at least not that I know of). Now, certain feminists may also hate men based on personal experiences but the two are mutually exclusive. There is no rule in any Feminist 101 Guidelines that states that hating men is a prerequisite to being a feminist. Simply put, feminists fight for the rights of women, for the protection of women against abuse, for the right and privilege to live a wholesome life. They are not set out to crucify men worldwide.

Someone who wants to be free to do whatever they want and can.

Contrary to popular belief, feminists have boundaries, limits, and realities they face. They are not loose cannons trying to prove to the world just how free they are. A feminist is not someone who just wants to be “disobedient” for the sake of – with no thought behind their actions. And quite often, feminists are not JUST feminists. That is just one piece of their identity – intersectionality is the culprit here. They are much more than just a feminist that those other personas play a factor in the choices the person makes.

A sexually liberated person who just wants to taxawaalu (roam free)

For some reason, in Senegalese culture, when you say you’re a feminist, it’s assumed you have no regard for the “virginity culture.” You are associated with promiscuity. This is simply not the case. The sexually liberated woman can be a feminist. The young woman saving herself for marriage can be a feminist. The happy housewife can be a feminist. The woman with a busy job handling business can be a feminist. There’s no template for what a feminist is, should look like, should behave as such, etc.

You want to stray from your culture’s “traditional values.”

I would pay a million dollars to go back in time and see how women were treated in Senegalese society because this association with feminism baffles me. I refuse to believe that my culture and tradition are rooted in oppressing women, mistreating women, and minimizing women. In the Senegalese context, feminism is not even asking for CEO positions or starting companies from the ground up; we’re talking about letting women have a voice in their conjugal life; we’re talking about not beating on your wife because she is “disobedient”; we’re truly talking about not treating women like second class citizens. That is a basic human right and when Senegalese feminists talk about it, they are quieted with assertions of losing their values. But what about Aline Sitoe Diatta and Yacine Boubou? If we pull it back to more recent time, women like Yassine Fall and Anta Babacar Ngom? Were they told they should sit quiet and not fight for what they believed in? Are these women any less Senegalese because they defy the norms? Can they not be Senegalese and feminists at the same time? And I don’t know that any of them self-identify as feminists – just that they are often brought up in feminist discourse and I beg to differ that they are not true, Senegalese woman because they dare to break the mold.

There is a lot to unpack when it comes to the topic of feminism in Senegalese culture/society. Factually, Merriam-Webster defines feminism as: belief in and advocacy of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes expressed especially through organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests. I implore you, as a consumer of my posts, to give this definition some thought. Wouldn’t you agree that it doesn’t take being a woman to simply believe in the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes? And given that women have for a long time been deprived of these rights, that the fight for this equality should be focused on women? Wouldn’t you then agree with me that every one of us should be feminists? 

I started with a list so let’s close with one.

  • You can be a feminist… and cater to your man.
  • You can be a feminist… and be a stay-at-home mom…or dad.
  • You can be a feminist… and be a second, or third, or fourth wife.
  • You can be a feminist… and be a muslim.
  • You can be a feminist… and be a man.

Feminism is about choice, not force. It’s about men and women having the choice to live the life they desire, deserve, and work for, without coercion, oppression, and abuse being an interference.

To end, I’d like to leave you with some food for thought via a quote.

[Begin quote] “Being pro-feminist means being aware of women’s experiences and to bring them to the center of analysis, not to displace men, but to broaden the perspective.” [End Quote]- University of Massachusetts Amherst Men and Masculinities Center

Soda, my sister

**An open letter to my baby sister (who’s not much of a baby anymore)**

Hey girl,

I want to share some life lessons with you today. Not because I know it all. And certainly not because I have got this life figured out. But because I want to shed some light on a few things so you can have a few more things in your toolbox as you figure out what life is FOR YOU.

I’ll start there – FOR YOU. Everything I am saying in this letter is just s preface to what’s really out there. We’re barely scratching the surface girl because let me tell you, it’s hard and will only get harder the older you grow. But that doesn’t mean you have to suffer or live a “hard” life. It just means you have to figure out how to live your life the way that works for you, without stepping on others’ toes or your own. I’m going to give you a few secrets I’ve learned along the way that have worked FOR ME. Reflect on them and see how they apply, or don’t apply, TO YOU.

  1. Be kind: That goes for others and for yourself. There’s a lot of ugly in this world and sometimes, we just have to stop, humble ourselves, and realize we don’t know the full story for anything! When faced with the option to be hard, be soft. This won’t always be easy – and sometimes, it actually may seem impossible. But try. Try to put yourself in the shoes of others and see if you can’t change your perspective. That goes for you too. Be kind and patient with yourself.
  2. Stand up for yourself: Life is full of bullies. People. Work. School. Family. Circumstances. Situations. Obstacles. There will always be something to make you pause and think “am I good enough”? But don’t let that deter you from going after what you want. Stand up and show up for yourself. Go after what you want!
  3. Have respect: for everyone.
  4. Be smart: If there is anything I’ve learned in this life, it’s that you are free to do what you want, but you are not free from the consequences of your actions. Every. single. thing you do has consequences. Take the time to analyze situations and weigh out the pros and cons. Make smart decisions and be ready to confront the outcomes they yield. Don’t be naive, and especially don’t forget to take accountability for your actions.
  5. No one owes you anything: This may be hard to accept or believe but it’s true. The good news is that most people are well-intended and aren’t set out to make your life miserable. But not everyone. Remember the bullies? Yeah, get comfortable with that and don’t take everything seriously. At the end of the day, you owe yourself the happiness, success, respect, and whatever else you desire, that you think you deserve.
  6. Have a plan: Life will throw many things at you. Have a plan. A plan that is structured and realistic but also responsive. Not everything will always go according to plan but a guide is always good. Follow your dreams.
  7. Family first: Ironic that I say family first yet it’s the last statement. It’s intentional. I am putting this at the bottom so it’s fresh in your memory as you finish off this letter. I am not sure about other families but the one you’ve got, yeah, it’s a good one. Not perfect but they love you and want the best for you. Even when the lesson may seem hard and the test may seem impossible, the final grade is always an A. Remember that.

I can ramble on and on about life lessons but the bottom line is…well, I’m your big sister so I can always send more via text message or over a phone call! And that’s exactly the point I want to drive home. Use me, and others who have been a positive addition to your life, as much or as little as you’d like as you figure out what you want your life to look like. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and be quick to recognize what isn’t going well and aim to fix it.

The truth is, none of us really know what’s going on. We’re figuring it out day by day. Don’t let the Internet fool you. There is no filter for life. No song you can really add to set the mood. And certainly not enough scrolling in the world to make bad things go away. But you can tag your loved ones to go on the journey with you, slide in the DMs of those who will give you sound advice to overcome anything, and best of all, pin the beautiful moments you’ll take into adulthood with you so you can reflect, and hopefully, be proud of the life you’ve built.

One of my favorite quotes is from a book called Reclaim Your Heart by Yasmin Mogahed. It goes: How do we become strong, without being hard, and remain soft, without being weak? While not easy, I try to make this my goal in life. I recommend the book, it’s available online 🙂

Xoxo,

Aissatou ❤

P.S. Don’t be afraid to cry.

KBF a dit … Un roi n’est pas loyal

Quand j’ai sondé mes amis des médias sociaux pour énumérer les caractéristiques d’un bon leader, j’ai obtenu les résultats comme ceci :

  • Qui sait écouter
  • Quelqu’un ayant de l’empathie
  • Quelqu’un qui est honnête, ouvert d’esprit et qui a du courage 
  • Quelqu’un qui sait motiver une équipe
  • Quelqu’un qui n’a pas toujours besoin d’être à la tête des personnes qu’il sert
  • Quelqu’un d’altruiste
  • Quelqu’un qui a le courage et le pouvoir de se battre pour les générations actuelles et futures 
  • Un mentor, un coach et un leader-serviteur
  • Quelqu’un de charismatique
  • Quelqu’un de loyal !

Ce dernier m’a marqué parce que ce post est consacré à l’expression “Buur du mbokk” de Kocc Barma ! Traduit approximativement, cela signifie qu’un roi n’est pas loyal !

Alors, pourquoi Kocc Barma a-t-il dit ça ? Un leader est techniquement un roi, sans le contexte royal. En fin de compte, ils sont tous les deux des leaders, alors comment devrions-nous penser à cela ? Comment puis-je concilier tous les attributs positifs de mes charmants amis énumérés ci-dessus avec cette affirmation audacieuse selon laquelle les dirigeants ne sont essentiellement pas loyaux ? Hmmm…

Je donnerai ci-dessous des exemples de bons et de mauvais dirigeants, ainsi que des opinions de recherche, et je verrai si je peux concilier tout cela dans ma tête. Restez avec moi.

Nelson Mandela –Ancien président Sud-Africain (1994 – 1999)

Je n’ai jamais entendu dire que cet homme n’est pas un grand leader. Je veux dire, allez ! C’est Nelson Mandela.

Militant des droits sociaux. 
Philanthrope.
Politician.
Nobel Prix de la Paix.

Il a travaillé dur pour démanteler le système de l’apartheid qui a tourmenté l’Afrique du Sud et a passé 27 ans en prison pour des « délits politiques ». Cela ressemble beaucoup à un leadership de service pour moi. Je ne peux dire assez de bonnes choses sur lui. Juste un Grand Merci.

Patrice Lumumba – Leader Indépendantiste et Homme Politique Congolais (1960)

La République du Congo a de nombreux remerciements à adresser à Lumumba. Il a joué un rôle important dans la transformation du Congo, qui est passé du statut de colonie de la Belgique à celui de république indépendante. Il a payé de sa vie ses efforts et ses accomplissements, brutalement assassiné avec d’autres révolutionnaires. À la fin, même ses ennemis l’ont reconnu comme un “héros national”.

Kwame Nkrumah – Leader de l’Indépendance et Ancien Président du Ghana (1957)

Nkrumah a été le premier «Premier ministre» et Président du Ghana. Il a conduit le Ghana à être le premier pays d’Afrique subsaharienne à obtenir son indépendance en 1957. La Gold Coast (Ghana) a eu la chance d’avoir un leader comme Nkrumah, qui était un visionnaire, un combattant, et un révolutionnaire. Il n’a pas gagné le nom Osagyefo (Rédempteur) sans raison.

Robert Mugabe – Ancien Président du Zimbabwe (1987 – 2017)

Faisons un peu de calcul. 2017 – 1987 = 30. 30 ans est une longue période pour être Président. Il est passé d’icône de l’indépendance à leader totalitaire…

Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (alias Le Boss) –Président de la Guinée équatoriale (1979 – Aujourd’hui)

Il a été désigné comme le leader le plus cruel de la planète. On disait qu’un roi n’est pas loyal et cet homme l’a incarné. Il a renversé son propre oncle, Francisco Macías Nguema, en 1979 lors d’un coup d’État sanglant et a refusé de partir… pour toujours. Il a été accusé d’abus de pouvoir, de torture de ses adversaires, et voyez-vous, même de cannibalisme ! On dit qu’il mange la chair de ses opposants pour gagner du pouvoir. C’est tout simplement choquant et tout cela est si triste pour un petit pays producteur de pétrole comme la Guinée équatoriale. Je commence vraiment à penser que cette malédiction du pétrole est plus dangereuse qu’on ne le croit.

Macky Sall – Président du Sénégal (2012 – Aujourd’hui)

Sall a donc commencé comme premier ministre de l’ancien président Abdoulaye Wade et s’est séparé pour former son propre parti en 2008. Il n’y a rien de mal à cela, c’est cool. Il l’a défié aux élections de 2012 et a gagné (c’était une bonne chose que Wade ait été écarté du pouvoir et empêché d’avoir un troisième mandat). En attendant 2020, Sall essaie de faire la même chose (le palmarès) et oh aussi, juste un tas d’autres choses qui ne servent pas l’intérêt du peuple sénégalais. Il est devenu ce qu’il prétendait avoir combattu auparavant. Faites en sorte que cela ait un sens.

Donald Trump – Président des États-Unis d’Amérique (2017 – Aujourd’hui)

Je ne vais même pas descendre dans ce trou à rats. Je ne fais que prier.

———

Bon auditeur. Empathique. Savoir quand il faut suivre. Altruiste. Charismatique. Courageux. Servant-leader. Loyal.

Remarquez que tous ces dirigeants sont des hommes. Je l’ai fait exprès et je disséquerai cette dynamique un autre jour, mais maintenant, restons sur le sujet et disons simplement WOW ! Nous avons toutes sortes de “styles” de leadership ici et on peut dire sans risque de se tromper qu’il n’y a pas de recette magique pour bien faire les choses, mais je peux dire que ce n’est pas bien de les faire en opprimant vos électeurs ; ce n’est pas bien de les faire en outrepassant vos droits et votre pouvoir ; ce n’est pas bien de les faire en abusant de votre accueil. Un bon dirigeant, entre autres choses, sait quand il est temps de partir !

Notre “Diiné” (religion): Oustaz Pape Hane

**Qui est Pape Hane?**

Je m’appelle Macoumba Hane, mais on m’appelle Pape Hane. Je suis né à Thiès, au Sénégal. Je vais résumer mon enfance en disant que j’ai appris le Coran à un jeune âge – mon maitre coranique s’appelait Makhtar Cisse. J’ai terminé le Coran, puis j’ai déménagé à Kaolack pour apprendre le “xam-xam” ou la connaissance au-delà du Coran.

**Pouvez-vous nous parler un peu de votre parcours pour devenir un Oustaz?**

Quand j’avais 12 ans, je faisais partie d’un dahira (congrégation). J’étais le plus jeune dans le dahira et souvent joué avec des discours et écouté Ibou Sakho (Googlez le). J’ai donné des sermons à mes camarades et je leur ai enseigné ce que j’apprenais. C’était avant que je ne sois allé au daara (école coranique) pour apprendre le xam-xam. Donc dès mon plus jeune âge, j’ai eu l’envie et je l’ai juste poursuivie avec les apprentissages supplémentaires requis.

**En parlant d’apprentissages supplémentaires, qu’est-ce qu’il faut pour devenir un Oustaz?

On doit étudier différents livres après avoir appris le Coran, comme Fiqh. Une fois les nombreux livres étudiés, on doit alors apprendre à interpréter (firi en wolof) afin qu’on ne puisse relayer le message à quelqu’un qui ne parle pas arabe ou n’a pas appris ces livres. Le processus est difficile, mais Masha’Allah quand on a l’amour pour ça et l’amour pour le Prophète (PSL), ça devient facile.

**Dans la société d’aujourd’hui, nous entendons dire qu’il y a une « crise des valeurs » au Sénégal, en particulier chez les jeunes. Quel est votre position à ce sujet ?**

Oui, c’est une réalité grave et triste. La façon dont les gens éduquent leurs enfants n’est pas la même. Les valeurs ont changé et les gens se soucient de moins en moins du bien-être de toute la communauté, de sorte que tout le monde agisse juste en leur propre faveur. Personne ne semble s’inquiéter des prochaines générations à venir.

Kersa (mot Wolof qui signifie une certaine modestie) n’existe plus. Pas dans la façon dont les gens parlent, s’habillent ou se comportent. Autrefois, quand un homme dit à une femme qu’il l’aime, elle est timide ou peut sourire timidement pour dire “Je t’aime de retour” mais aujourd’hui, tout le monde est audacieux et regarde directement les yeux des autres et dit ce qu’ils ressentent. On pouvait compter le nombre de personnes qui boivent ou fument dans un quartier, mais aujourd’hui, c’est répandu. La liste des choses continue encore et encore.

Une autre chose est qu’il y a de la pression aujourd’hui avec le temps. Tout le monde se précipite et veut s’en sortir du jour au lendemain, il y a beaucoup de fraude en cours pour gagner de l’argent facile. Les gens avec des valeurs qui travaillent dur diminuent et le pire de tout ça, personne ne fait rien au nom d’Allah les autres, semble-t-il. Il y a toujours du bien, mais beaucoup de mauvais vraiment.

** Comment inverser cette tendance négative alors ?**

Nous devons revenir à l’essentiel. Le Coran et la Sunna (enseignements du Prophète (PSL)) nous ont été donnés en tant que guide et nous devons nous rappeler qu’Allah ne se soucie pas de la façon dont vous commencez, il se soucie de la façon dont vous finissez. Donc, nettoyons les cœurs et aimons-nous les uns les autres.

** Oustaz, je dois vous demander parce que les gens continuent d’en parler. Qu’est-ce que c’est que Akhirou Zamane (fin du monde) ?**

Le prophète a dit: Je ne serai pas couche 2000 ans dans le sol.
1 441 ans depuis son décès.

Fais le calcul.

Maintenant, au-delà de l’aspect chronométrage de celle-ci, il y a beaucoup de signes de « Akhirou Zamane ». La diminution des valeurs que j’ai mentionnées précédemment est un signe, les catastrophes naturelles en sont une autre, beaucoup de divergences en sont une autre aussi, et la liste continue. C’est essentiellement une époque où les choses seront très complexes et désordonnées et cela nous mènera à la fin du monde telle que nous la connaissons. Ce n’est pas un processus de dix ans – ce sont des siècles et des siècles de signes qui culminent tous à ce jour fatidique où nous sortirons de nos tombes et répondrons à notre Créateur.

Aissatou s’exprimant principalement par urgence LOL : Je suppose que cela signifie n’importe quel jour maintenant peut être la fin du monde. Qu’Allah (Dieu) nous guide tous de retour vers lui !

**Ok, donc maintenant, je dois vous poser quelques questions brûlantes sur le sujet très controversé de la polygamie qui fait l’objet de discussions intenses. Que dit le Coran ? **

Tout d’abord, le Coran dit que vous devez être en mesure de le faire. Cela signifie financièrement et être assez responsable pour garder votre ménage dans l’ordre. Vous devez yamale (garder les choses égales). Si vous ne pouvez pas garder les choses égales, alors l’Islam vous a libéré du fardeau d’avoir plusieurs épouses.

Il y a un moyen de le faire et chaque situation est différente de sorte qu’il soit important de chercher des connaissances et des conseils de ceux qui ont appris ce que les livres disent. L’ignorance de toute orientation n’est pas une excuse.

** Que devons-nous faire pour maintenir notre « diiné » (religion) tout en vivant à l’étranger? **

Travailler dur. Et pas seulement dans le sens professionnel, mais investir du temps dans votre diiné (foi) pour en apprendre davantage et vivre les choses que vous apprenez. C’est votre responsabilité ultime et vous serez interrogé le Jour du Jugement.

———

Un MERCI très spécial à Oustaz Pape Hane pour cette interview rafraîchissante. Je suis honorée et profondément motivée chaque fois que je vous entends parler de la belle religion qu’est l’Islam et votre amour profond pour notre prophète Mahomet (SAW). Yallah na sa jam yagg Oustaz. Jërëjëf !

Maguette, on behalf of all the women holding it together during Ramadan

Reading time: ~4 mins

File:Alarm Clock Vector.svg - Wikimedia Commons
4:45 AM

I feel like I just laid my head down no more than an hour ago! I swear that alarm clock races with my sanity sometimes.

It was time to get up and prepare a meal before sunrise. Ramadan had begun and it was going to be a long month of waking up early and preparing the household for extended days of not eating, not drinking, and not jumping down each other’s throats. In order for this to happen, the suhoor has to be hefty! I go into the bathroom first to make wudu (ablution) before going into the kitchen to prepare today’s meal.

Mix dried fruits (date palm fruits, prunes, dried apricots, raisins) and nuts, and traditional arabic tea. ramadan (ramazan) food. Premium Photo
4:55 AM

My kids (including my husband, yes he’s my child too) love vermicelle so I thought why not start this blessed month off with one of their favorite meals! I steamed a batch just before bed so all I would have to do is cook the onion sauce it goes with and warm up the chicken. I’m not the biggest fan of reheating food but during Ramadan, when you’re rushing against time, you have no choice! I’d need to wake up at 2AM to prepare a meal for 5AM and that’s just not realistic considering we go to bed around 1AM. Oh, and did I mention the challenge that is waking up my family for suhoor? Just wait for it.

With the chicken warming up in the oven, I chop up a few onions and quickly marinate it before setting it on the stove to simmer. It’s 5:05 at this point. I move to set the table. I lay everything out, including my favorite part, the dates. I set out utensils, fruits that I prepared the night before, and plenty of water. As the onions simmered away, I began the journey to waking up my children.

5:15 AM (actual size of the stairs at my house)

The first round of running up the stairs to grab my baby boy, who inevitably wakes up from the noise, and daughter is usually successful. There’s one defeat as my older son says he hears me but wasn’t actually listening in the first place. I finish that round by stopping in my own bedroom to wake my husband up. He sits up, looks me in the eyes, and says “I’ll be right there” ever single time. It’s incredulous because it feels like a zombie talking to you. The second he’s done speaking, he rolls over and goes right back to sleep. I just roll my eyes and head back into the kitchen to check on whatever I was warming up and prepare for round 2.

5:25 AM

My daughter wakes up to eat even though she doesn’t fast all day. Since she’s not 18 yet, she will fast half days in solidarity with everyone else. It’s also good practice as she gets older to get used to the fasting rhythms. My younger son is just there for company. The two men of the house are different stories. I send my daughter back upstairs to wake her brother up while I go get her father.

I use different tactics to wake him up, and since today I am in a good mood, I head straight for the bathroom in our bedroom and start making a lot of noise. When he wakes up, I tell him suhoor is over and everybody has gone back to bed. I’m just preparing to do the same. He jumps out of bed so fast, I couldn’t help but laugh. “Nieuwal kheud balaa heure bi diol, mo guen si yaw.”

Ramadan Islamic Art Muslim - Free vector graphic on Pixabay
5:35 AM

As we sit down to eat, as a family, I can’t help but smile. It’s not easy waking up to prepare the meals when sleep is the only thing on my mind. Running up and down the stairs is not fun either. But I know Allah will repay all of us who take on these tasks for his sake. I know the blessings available to Muslims in the month of Ramadan far surpass the seemingly annoying things we go through. The hunger, the thirst, the lack of sleep, the migraines, etc…. nothing compares to the beauty that is Ramadan. It is the ninth and holiest month of the Islamic calendar – it’s also the month that the Quran was revealed to our beloved prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Every country observes this with a twist but the premise is the same: abstain from food, drink, sex, smoking, and all other forbidden acts from dawn to sunset (forbidden acts are still forbidden beyond the dawn to sunset limits). It’s a time for families to reconnect. It’s also a time to get closer to our creator and do some self-reflection. For many Muslims, it’s their favorite time of the year.

We’re going to finish eating here and prepare for the morning prayer. I’d like to wish you and your families RAMADAN MUBARAK. May Allah grant us a healthy, blessed month and may Allah grant us the honor to die as Muslims.

NitDoffKillah – Défis au développement au Sénégal

AG: Parlez-nous un peu de vous.

NDK: Mon vrai nom est Mor Talla Gueye. J’ai grandi à Louga au Sénégal, et j’y ai passé toute mon enfance et mon adolescence. Je suis entré dans le hip hop à l’adolescence et j’avais l’habitude de faire du ‘‘break dance’’ avec un groupe d’amis. Notre groupe s’appelait BMG (Bokk Mboloo di Gestu). C’est à ce moment que RapGalsen  commençait à prendre de l’ampleur et la plupart des break-dancers ont commencé à rapper, moi y compris. Nous avions l’habitude de participer à des compétitions nationales et nous en avons même remporté deux. Au fil du temps, nous nous sommes dispersés et en 1999, je me suis rendu en France pour rejoindre mon père (mon père et mes frères étaient quasiment tous à l’étranger).

J’ai passé 14 ans à Paris. Il y a eu un certain temps où j’ai voyagé de Paris au Sénégal, mais en 2007, j’ai officiellement décidé de lancer ma carrière de rap avec mon premier album. J’ai continué sur ma lancée en sortant mon deuxième album en 2009 et j’ai commencé Show of the Year, qui est un événement annuel pour tous les hip-hoppers au Sénégal. J’ai sorti un troisième album en 2013 et un double album en 2017 (appelez-le mon quatrième et cinquième). 

Je me suis lancé à l’international en Europe et je cherche toujours des moyens de produire une nouvelle musique, d’augmenter ma base de fans et de faire plus pour la communauté. Avec la situation actuelle, beaucoup de choses sont au point mort, mais nous travaillons continuellement sur d’autres projets. J’ai créé un label et je produis aussi d’autres rappeurs.

En dehors de ma carrière musicale, j’utilise ma voix dans le domaine politique et dans les conversations panafricaines pour partager mon humble point de vue.

AG: Si vous devez résumer les défis au développement au Sénégal, que diriez-vous ?

NDK: À mon avis, nous avons connu un terrible début d’indépendance. Quand nous avons “obtenu l’indépendance”, ce n’était qu’une “indépendance de drapeau”, mais nous n’avons pas obtenu une indépendance économique. On a eu un “faux départ”. Lorsque les Français sont partis, ils ont laissé derrière eux du personnel pro-colonial qui était censé essentiellement poursuivre l’ordre du jour Français. Ensuite, il y avait des gens comme Mamadou Dia et Ousmane Blondin Diop qui ont été discrédités, emprisonnés, mortellement réduits au silence parce qu’ils se sont prononcés contre ce comportement. 

Les premiers présidents (Senghor et Diouf) n’étaient pas ce que nous appelons corrompus aujourd’hui, mais ils n’avaient pas la vision, le patriotisme, la mentalité panafricaine, et les moyens d’enlever les taches coloniales et de mettre en œuvre leurs propres agendas sénégalais qui pouvaient profiter le peuple sénégalais. Nous avons perdu une vingtaine d’années où nous ne faisions que plaire aux Français, cela se reflétait dans nos contrats et nos engagements économiques à tous les niveaux. 

Leurs remplaçants et leurs entourages respectifs étaient encore pires. Menteurs. Voleurs. Détournement de fonds. Rien ne nous a fait avancer. Ce ne sont même pas des acteurs politiques qui ont les connaissances et l’expertise. Certains étaient d’anciens enseignants qui venaient de recevoir des postes de titulaires.

Nous avons raté la marque dès le début. Il n’y a pas eu d’investissement dans la recherche et le développement, attisant les jeunes à se préparer à un avenir radieux et à être autonomes, à investir dans les ingénieurs afin qu’ils soient les producteurs internes de notre pays ! L’Université Cheikh Anta Diop était une grande université, mais il n’y avait pas assez d’investissements pour maintenir cette excellence afin de permettre aux étudiants diplômés de ne pas avoir d’emplois à montrer. Il n’y a pas de soutien de notre peuple pour que nous puissions nous tenir seuls et ne pas dépendre des autres. 

Nous avons eu un leadership terrible. Nous sommes un petit pays avec beaucoup de richesse, mais nous n’avons pas investi et profité de cela. 60% de la population est jeune ! Des coupures d’eau. Pannes d’électricité. Nous aurions dû dépasser cela, mais le leadership nous a fait défaut. Le Sénégal est aujourd’hui victime de tout cela réuni.

AG: Donnez-moi une suggestion d’une solution réaliste qui pourrait être mise en œuvre au Sénégal pour nous rapprocher un peu plus d’un État plus développé.

NDK: C’est un bon leadership. Nous avons besoin d’un vrai leader avec de la morale, de l’éthique, de bonnes idées, des caractéristiques craignant Dieu, et de la conviction. Nous n’avons pas de leaders intègres. Nous devons nous débarrasser de la corruption, des dirigeants qui détournent des fonds, de jeter des choses sous le tapis. Nous pouvons reconquérir 50 ans de perte avec un solide, bon, leader exemplaire / mandat présidentiel. La population est facile à guider – nous avons des chefs religieux qui ont une voix et peuvent influencer le peuple. Mais pour que les bons messages passent, nous avons besoin de ce leader. Quelqu’un qui n’a pas peur de dire non aux forces extérieures qui essaient de profiter de nous. Quelqu’un qui prend l’éducation et l’agriculture au sérieux! Nous pouvons tirer parti de nos ressources naturelles pour nous bénéficier, une fois pour toutes, avant d’ouvrir nos portes au reste du monde.

AG: Quelques observations sur la situation du COVID-19 ?

NDK: C’est inquiétant. Il y a de la peur. Non seulement à cause de la situation actuelle, mais aussi à cause de ce qu’elle pourrait devenir. Jusqu’à ce que nous trouvions une solution (guérison, vaccin, méthode durable de prévention de la propagation, etc.), ce sera comme si nous étions assis sur des œufs.

Si une autre guerre mondiale devait se produire, ce serait économique. Il y a différentes spéculations, mais il y a beaucoup de choses qui sortent et nous n’avons pas toutes les réponses. Le monde est sûrement surpeuplé et à chaque crise qui se présente, nous nous retrouvons avec deux choix: (1) l’approche naïve où l’on dit juste que c’est un événement naturel ou (2) l’approche la plus curieuse de demander “ce qui est vraiment en jeu ici?”

Au Sénégal, les gens sont toujours dehors pendant la journée. Donner de l’aide est une bonne initiative, mais ce n’est pas suffisant pour tout combattre. Pendant la journée, les gens sont dehors comme si rien ne se passait. Nous n’avons pas de masques, gel antiseptique, etc. donc c’est effrayant.

Je salue nos médecins, notre ministre de la Santé et tous ceux qui travaillent dur pour lutter contre ce virus. Personnellement, j’ai peur qu’il se propage encore plus et nous, en tant que nation, ne pouvons pas gérer cela. Nous n’avons pas l’infrastructure, mais je prie pour que nous n’en arrivions même pas cela.

AG: Responsabilité des rappeurs / influenceurs / chanteurs / personnalités publiques dans l’information du public ?

NDK: C’est donné par Dieu et il est important de comprendre cela et d’être humble à ce sujet. Dieu vous demandera comment vous avez utilisé votre voix et votre don. Vous l’avez utilisé pour faire du bien ? Éduquer les autres. Pour guider d’autres personnes qui vous écoutent et vous suivent?

Mon opinion est qu’avec un don et une plate-forme, notre mission est de servir Dieu et de servir le peuple. Et être conscient de l’impact que nous avons afin que nous puissions utiliser notre voix / cadeau pour faire du bien dans le monde.

Certaines personnes l’utilisent d’une mauvaise façon pour juste obtenir de l’argent. Peu importe le coût ou le sacrifice. Prendre des positions auxquelles ils ne croient pas. Agir au nom d’autres personnes qui ne sont pas assez courageuses pour le faire eux-mêmes.

La façon dont nous utilisons nos pouvoirs compte beaucoup.

AG: L’Influence du Hip-Hop dans notre société ?

NDK: RapGalsen est connu pour les messages que nous avons diffusés là-bas. Nous sommes connus pour être “trop Hip Hop, pas commercial” et c’est une fierté pour nous. Nous nous efforçons d’envoyer de bons messages qui sont pertinents pour notre peuple. épidémie de sida. Lutter contre la corruption. Les relations familiales. Nous parlons de l’actualité et éduquons les gens.

Les élèves qui écoutent la réminiscence du Hip Hop se souviennent de la façon dont cela les a aidés à réussir l’école en les redynamisant. Les responsabilisant! C’est formidable.

Nous ne parlons pas de drogues, d’alcool, médisances ou dévêtir femmes dans nos vidéos. Nous sommes fiers d’élever et de ne pas démolir. C’est l’âme de RapGalsen.

Nous sommes connus pour être des êtres honnêtes. Même si elle est sous-évaluée ici au Sénégal, RapGalsen  s’est avéré multidimensionnel. Les rappeurs ont généralement beaucoup voyagé et très instruits et utilisent leur voix pour parler sur des questions qui comptent.

Je respecte l’industrie. Les mouvements que nous avons créés. L’éducation que nous avons partagée avec la population. Les changements positifs que nous avons donnés.

AG: Qui est votre modèle?

NDK: Il y en a beaucoup que je pourrais énumérer. Je regarde des gens comme Thomas Sankara, Patrice Lumumba, Amilcar Cabral et Malcolm X.

Mais mon modèle ultime est mon père. Il m’a le plus influencé dans la vie. Avant qu’il ne décède et jusqu’à aujourd’hui, il est sur mon économiseur d’écran ! Il m’a beaucoup appris et m’a aidé à savoir qui et comment je devrais être. Il a toujours été mon point de référence, ma superstar, et mon modèle. Je sais que je ne peux pas être comme lui, mais c’est quelqu’un que je m’efforce d’être. Nous avions une relation puissante. Travailleur, familial, discret, s’est oublié pour le bien de sa famille, modeste, honnête, n’a pas laissé ses enfants faire du n’importe quoi, il nous a élevés avec intégrité. C’est un homme respecté. Il n’a jamais eu de vie parce qu’il était si concentré sur nous donner une belle vie.

Quand j’ai grandi et que je suis allé en France avec lui, j’ai vu comment il vivait juste pour s’assurer que nous avions une vie confortable au Sénégal, cela renforçait mon amour et mon respect en lui. Je savais alors que c’est comme ça qu’un homme est censé être. Si vous voulez être respecté, vous devez être cette personne intègre!

Bien que je puisse énumérer beaucoup de gens aujourd’hui, je dirai avec fierté que mon père est l’unique. C’est mon tout.

NitDoffKillah – Challenges to Development in Senegal

AG: Tell us a little bit about you.

NDK: My real name is Mor Talla Gueye. I grew up in Louga, Senegal and spent my entire childhood and adolescent years there. I got into Hip Hop as an adolescent and used to break dance with a group of friends. We went by the name BMG (Bokk Mboloo di Gestu). That was the time RapGalsen was starting to gain momentum and most breakdancers started rapping, myself included. We used to participate in national competitions and even won a couple of them. Over time, we dispersed and in 1999, I traveled to France to join my father (my father and brothers were all pretty much abroad).

I spent 14 years in Paris. There was a period of time I traveled back and forth from Paris to Senegal but officially decided to launch my rap career with my first album in 2007. I kept up the momentum and released by second album in 2009 and started Show of the Year, which is an annual event for all hip-hoppers in Senegal. I released by third album in 2013 and a double album (call it my fourth and fifth) in 2017. I went international in Europe and can always looking for ways to produce new music, increase my fan base, and do more for the community. With the current situation, a lot of things are stalled but we’re continuously working on additional projects. I stared a record label and am producing other rappers as well.

Outside of my music career, I use my voice in the political realm and in Pan-African conversations to share my humble point of view.

AG: If you had to summarize the challenges to development in Senegal, what would you say?

NDK: My opinion is we had a terrible start at independence. When we “got independence,” it was just a “flag independence” but we didn’t gain economic independence. We had a “faux depart.” When the French left, they left behind pro-colonial personnel who were supposed to basically continue the French agenda. Then you had folks like Mamadou Dia and Ousmane Blondin Diop who were discredited, imprisoned, fatally silenced because they spoke out against this behavior.

The first presidents (Senghor and Diouf) weren’t what we would call corrupt today but they didn’t have the vision, patriotism, Pan-African mentality, and wherewithal to remove colonial stains and implement their own, Senegalese agendas that benefited the Senegalese people. We lost about 20 years where we were just pleasing the French still – it showed in our contracts and economic engagements at every level.

Their replacements and their respective entourages were even worst. Liars. Thieves. Misappropriation of funds. Nothing moved us forward. They aren’t even political actors who have the knowledge and expertise. Some were former teachers who were just given posts by incumbents.

We missed the mark early on. There was no investment in research and development, fueling the youth to be prepared for a bright future and be autonomous, investing in engineers so they are the in-house producers in our country! Universite Cheikh Anta Diop was a great university but there wasn’t enough investment to maintain that excellence so that leads to students with diplomas not having jobs to show for it. There is no support of our people so that we can stand on our own and not depend on others.

We’ve had terrible leadership. We are a small country with a lot of richness but we didn’t invest and take advantage of that. 60% of the population is young! Water outages. Power outages. We should have been past this but leadership has failed us. Senegal today is a victim of all of that lumped together.

AG: Give one suggestion of a realistic solution that could be implemented in Senegal to get us one step closer to a more developed state.

NDK: It’s good leadership. We need a real leader with morals, ethics, good ideas, God-fearing characteristics, and conviction. We don’t have leaders with integrity. We need to get rid of corruption, of leaders who misappropriate funds, of throwing things under the rug. We can win back 50 years of loss with one solid, good, exemplary leader/presidential term. The population is easy to guide – we have religious leaders who have a voice and can influence the people. But for the right messages to go through, we need that leader. Someone who isn’t’ afraid to say no to external forces who try to take advantage of us. Someone who takes education and agriculture seriously! We can leverage our natural resources to benefit us, once and for all, before opening our doors to the rest of the world.

AG: Some observations about the COVID-19 situation?

NDK: It’s worrisome. There is fear. Not only because of the current situation but because of what it could grow into. Until we find a solution (cure, vaccine, sustainable method of preventing further spread, etc.), it’s going to be like we’re sitting on eggshells.

If another World War was to happen, it would be economic. There are different speculations but there are a lot of things going out and we don’t have all the answers. The world is surely overpopulated and with every crisis that comes up, we are left with two choices: (1) the naive approach where we just say this is a natural occurrence or (2) the more curious approach of asking “what’s really at play here?”

In Senegal, people are still out and about during the day. Giving out aid is a good initiative but it’s not enough to combat everything. During the day, people are out as if nothing is going on. We don’t have masks, antiseptic gel, etc. so it’s scary.

I salute our doctors, Minister of Health, and everybody working hard to fight this virus. Personally, I am scared it will spread even more and we as a nation cannot handle that. We don’t have the infrastructure but I pray we don’t even get to that.

AG: Responsibility of rappers/influencers/singers/public figures in informing the public?

NDK: That is God-given and it’s important to understand that and be humble about it. God will ask you how you used your voice and gift. Did you use it to do good? To educate others. To guide others who listen to you and are following you?

My opinion is that with a gift and a platform, our mission is to serve God and serve the people. And be aware of the impact we have so we can use our voice/gift to do good in the world.

Some people use it in a bad way to just get money. No matter the cost or sacrifice. Taking positions that they don’t believe in. Acting on behalf of others who aren’t courageous enough to do it themselves.

How we use our powers matter.

AG: Influence of Hip-Hop in our society?

NDK: Hip Hop Galsen is known for the messages we put out there. We are known to be “too Hip Hop, not commercial” and that’s a point of pride for us. We strive to send good messages out there that are relevant to our people. AIDS epidemic. Fighting corruption. Family relations. We talk about current events and educate people.

Students listening to Hip Hop reminiscence about how it helped them get through school by re-energizing them. Empowering them! That’s amazing.

We don’t talk about drugs, alcohol, trash talking or disrobing women in our videos. We pride ourselves on uplifting and not tearing down. It’s the soul of RapGalsen.

We are known for being honest beings. Even if it’s undervalued here in Senegal, RapGalsen has proven to be multi-dimensional. Rappers are generally well-traveled and very educated and use their voice to talk about issues that matter.

I respect the industry. The movements we have created. The education we’ve shared with the population. The positive changes we have imparted.

AG: Who is your role model?

NDK: There are many I could list. I look up to people like Thomas Sankara, Patrice Lumumba, Amilcar Cabral, and Malcolm X.

But my ultimate role model is my father. He influenced me the most in my life. Before he passed and up until today, he’s on my screensaver! He taught me a lot and helped me to know who and how I should be. He’s always been my point-of-reference, my superstar, and my role model. I know I can’t be like him but he’s someone I strive to be like. We had a powerful relationship. Hard-working, family-oriented, discreet, forgot about himself for the sake of his family, modest, honest, didn’t let his kids do whatever, he raised us with integrity. He’s a respected man. He never had a life because he was so focused on giving us a good life.

When I grew up and went to France with him, I saw how he was living just to maek sure we had a comfortable life back in Senegal, it reinforced my love and respect in him. I knew then that that’s how a man is supposed to be. If you want to be respected, you have to be this person of integrity!

While I can list many people today, I will say with pride that my father is the one. He’s my everything.