KBF said … An old man is needed in a country

“Mag mat naa bayyi ci’m reew”

Ahhh – the elders. “Respect” was the only word I ever associated with them growing up. It was like their word was law. If you ask my mother, she will still tell you that their word IS law. It may be because she’s one of them now … an elder.

I love the wisdom that they bring to our lives. They carry so many stories and intellectual artifacts that can be valuable in understanding some of the things we’re going through as the “younger generation.” I admire their resiliency and persistence. Because in my mind, being around after everything they’ve been through says a lot. And I want to get to that point where I can pass down this knowledge I’ve gained over the years to my “younger generation.” I want to be able to provide stimulation and provoke the minds of the youth so that, I too, may learn from what they have encountered. That last point is what I think is missing for our older generation, our Senegalese elders.

You see, in Senegalese society, there is no room for the youth to have opinions, thoughts, room for mistakes, and God forbid, the freedom to make their own choices. We are bound by sayings like “fii laniou ko fekk, tei fii laniou koy bayi” or “khale khamoul dara.” Loosely translated, it means “we leave things as we found them (generation-to-generation) and “kids don’t know anything.” The first one, I’m more lenient about because of the old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Some things are broken but we’ll get to that later. The second saying that children don’t know anything bothers me to my core. Because what it should say is something along the lines of “children don’t know the same things we do.” That gives credit where credit is due.

As a child, respecting your elders in Senegalese society means the following (not an exhaustive list):

  • Don’t disagree with anything elders say.
  • Don’t challenge their decisions or thought processes.
  • Don’t disobey them.
  • Even if they are telling a blatant lie, agree with them.
  • Don’t turn down their unsolicited “barging in” in your life.
  • Don’t talk back, even if they ask you to answer them, because that counts as talking back.
  • Don’t make your own decisions. Always consult them and make your choice, their choice.

A quick glimpse into the hierarchy of elders-to-youth in Senegalese culture shows you that Kocc Barma’s saying that “an old man is necessary in a country” holds true in many ways. Not because it’s true. And not because it’s not true. But I want to challenge you to think about this differently. In this series, starting with this chapter, I want to invoke a new way of thinking about this and other historical sayings so that we can adopt new ways of understanding them. Allow me to elaborate.

If I start with the saying that adults are necessary in a country, I can’t help but agree. As I stated earlier, they bring wisdom, experience, knowledge, and tried-and-tested methods to surviving this life. After all, they did make it to old age. I don’t just give children credit where credit is due. The elders deserve it here too. So what exactly is my problem with this saying? Well, my problem is when the valid experiences, knowledge, wisdom, and rationale that the youth bring with them is invalided by feelings of hierarchy and/or dominance. The youth, in this saying, don’t have consideration or weight in “grown-up” discussions. No matter how old they become, they will always be seen as children in the eyes of their elders and thus, must succumb to the same treatment of children.

This becomes much more prominent and problematic when it becomes time for said youth to make not-so-youthful decisions, such as who to marriage, career choices, traveling (informing versus asking for permission), how to raise their kids, and even how to spend their money on large purchases. In each of these pivotal moments, an adult must be consulted. And more than consulted, their “advice” must be taken as final or else, the youth runs the risk of being called disobedient, hard-headed, and/or “too westernized.”

This leads me to a point I want to talk about – the theory of cultural modernization. This idea that the evolution of norms and traditions applies also to the cultural realm. I’ll spare you the technical details and boil it down to a Wolof saying I adore: su diamono di dox, danguay dox ande ak mome, loosely translated to as generations walk, you must walk along with them. I love this saying because it simplifies the theory of cultural modernization so well. As the world becomes smaller, as the displacement of people becomes more and more commonplace, and as tradition merge with modernization, we as a people must adapt. It’s not about throwing away our values. It’s not even about plagiarizing those of others. It’s about creating a cocktail of the old, plus the new, to have a more holistic view of the real, true world we live in today. It’s about integration and harmonization. It’s about the first generation 20 year old young woman who was born in Senegal and must find the balance between hanging on to her roots but assimilating to her known life in the US. It’s about the 6 year old bilingual boy who must instantaneously switch between English and Spanish during a parent-teacher meeting to translate for his mother whose English isn’t perfect. How about the 28 year old African-American man who must practice basic Japanese customs and phrases the weekend before he meets his future parents-in-law because he wants to impress them? Let’s not forget about the Muslim hijabi who has to educate men around her office that her not shaking their hand isn’t a sign of disrespect towards them – and not get side eyes for daring to step out of her “traditional role” as a house wife. Cultural modernization looks different everywhere we look… with one common denominator: the world as we know it is changing. Things are looking different, more interconnected and old sayings/traditions/norms are simply no longer a litmus test for “right.” Right looks different depending on who you ask and yes, it’s the youth that brought on this change. Whether it’s the youth of today or the youth of tomorrow, it really doesn’t matter. In every generation, the youth brought something that wasn’t there before and we, as humans, are forced to adapt.

If I pull the reins in a little, back on topic, I insist that yes, elders are necessary for a country. Because of the wisdom they bring and the experiences they share. But they must remember they were the youth to whatever was their older generation at some point. It’s a cycle and everyone must have their turn. So when I throw out the challenge for Senegalese elders to give a little more credit and dare I say respect to the younger generation, I say it with full acknowledgement that one day, I will be part of the older generation that must accept that things will look just a little bit different than from my time. But it’s just that: different.

As we journey through the remainder of Kocc Barma’s sayings, let’s keep this in mind: it’s hard to know what is better or worse – you’ll always get a different answer depending on who you ask. All we are certain of is that something is different. So let’s not punish the younger generation for having a fresh way of doing things, especially when forced to do so by their surroundings. I’m sure when Kocc Barma said mag mat naa bayyi ci’m reew, he didn’t mean at the expense of the youth.

MOUTAROU

Au Sénégal il y a beaucoup de pressions sociales. Pratiquement, tout le monde fait face à ce phénomène dans tout le pays, les femmes aussi bien les hommes. 

En ce qui me concerne, je suis l’aîné hommes, ce qui me donne un statut de soutien de famille. Au Sénégal, on a des familles nombreuses, ce qui fait que souvent, les enfants sont appelés à fournir le soutien de famille pour subvenir aux besoins des frères et sœurs et des parents. Je suis dans cette situation-là car je suis le troisième enfant et le premier garçon. 

Donc, je dois subvenir aux besoins de ma famille puisque, mon père étant âgé maintenant, je suis le seul qui a un travail décent alors, c’est une obligation de donner la dépense quotidienne et assurer les autres besoins familiaux comme l’éducation de mes frères et sœurs et gérer les besoins de mes deux parents. 

Ce fardeau au-dessus de ma tête pesait tellement lourd que cela a eu des conséquences sur toute ma vie, dans tous les domaines. Il fallait que je réussisse dans mes études et que je gagne un bon travail qui pourrait me satisfaire et me permettrait de subvenir aux besoins de ma famille. Etant donné qu’à l’Université il y avait beaucoup de grèves, je ne pouvais pas me permettre de retard les échéances alors, j’ai quitté plutôt les études pour aller chercher du travail pour aider mon père. L’autre conséquence c’est que je ne pouvais plus choisir vraiment ce que je voulais dans ma vie. Je devais juste trouver un travail quel que soit le salaire. 

En quelques sortes, ma vie ne pouvait plus compter vraiment car mon devoir était d’aider la famille quel que soit le sacrifice de ma propre vie.  

Toute la famille s’attendait à ce que mon succès soit effectif pour apporter de la nourriture sur la table, pour permettre à tout un chacun d’avoir une éducation et de pouvoir assurer la bonne santé de tout le monde. Jusqu’ici tout va bien et que la famille ne manque de rien mais quand même il y a une partie de moi qui ne vit pas totalement ce dont elle aurait aimé vivre. Mais c’est la vie, c’est le Sénégal, c’est comme ça quoi. 

Ce qui est bizarre dans tout ça c’est que mon père m’a poussé tout le temps à me marier très tôt en même temps, il voulait que je le seconde dans sa propre famille. Pour moi, les deux ne pouvaient aller ensemble car, si je me mariais comme il le voulait, je n’aurais pas eu la possibilité de l’aider convenablement puisque j’aurais eu une épouse à nourrir et peut-être des enfants en charge. Mais, mon père ne voyait pas ça et disait que seul Dieu sait ce qui devant nous. C’est vrai mais en même temps, l’être humain propose et Dieu dispose.

Une autre pression que j’ai subie pendant longtemps et continue de subir c’est de me marier. Mon père voulait que je me marie à l’âge de 24 ans. Il a voulu que je marie une fille que je n’avais jamais vue de ma vie. Il continue toujours à me mettre la pression puisque je suis sorti d’un mariage avec une femme américaine qu’il n’a pas du tout digéré car pour lui, marier une femme qui n’est pas Peul c’est comme si je ne me suis toujours pas marié. Même quand j’avais ma femme américaine, il continuait toujours à me dire de me marier. Je rigolais et je lui disais oui bientôt. Il n’a pas arrêté de me mettre la pression et surtout, il me rappelait toujours mes devoirs de musulman et surtout en tant qu’homme et d’aîné de la famille. Il voulait que je montre un exemple positif à mes frères qui venaient après moi. 

Au début il me disait que je devais me marier avec une femme d’ethnie Peul comme moi de ma famille, c’est-à-dire une cousine. Ensuite, étant donné que je n’ai pas suivi, il a changé de tactique en me disant de chercher une fille musulmane seulement. Puis, il me disait que cela ne le dérangerait pas si la fille n’était pas d’ethnie Peul mais une musulmane de bonne famille. 

Il me rappelait chaque fois que je le voyais. Etant donné que je vivais à Dakar et que j’allais à Thiès chez nous une fois par mois, il n’hésitait point de me mettre la pression pour que je me marie. Depuis, je vis avec ce fardeau et cette pression sociale. Je pense que nous devons changer la façon dont nous faisons les bébés et nous devons penser à leur avenir.

MBAYE

Mbaye :  Je suis désolé. J’ai fait tout ce que l’on pouvait imaginer…

Laila : Chut. Ne t’en fais pas pour ça. Ce n’est pas grave. Je peux attendre.

Mbaye :  Mais tu as attendu pendant un bout de temps, et ce n’est pas juste.

Lala : Chéri, on en a parlé. Nous allons juste continuer à essayer et poursuivre le traitement jusqu’à ce que nous y voyions une amélioration. Sois patient.

Mbaye :  Je ne sais pas comment tu peux être si calme à ce sujet.  Ça me rend fou !

Laila : Haha je me demande pourquoi (sourires ludique). Bon, je vais commencer le petit déjeuner. Sortons du lit et faisons quelque chose de notre journée !

J’ai sauté du lit de façon ludique et je me suis dirigée vers la salle de bain pour prendre une douche, sans même réfléchir sur la conversation que nous venons d’avoir et avons eu à maintes reprises. Nous sommes mariés depuis quatre ans maintenant et il a un problème, une situation. Je pense que vous savez ce que je veux dire, s’il vous plaît ne me faites pas l’épeler. C’est nul, oui, mais je ne m’y attarde pas. Je sais qu’il n’a rien qu’on peut vraiment contrôler mais il se fait traiter. Tout ce que je peux faire, c’est espérer et prier pour qu’il y ait une sortie au bout de ce tunnel. Mbaye est un bon mari et un homme – c’est assez suffisant pour moi maintenant. Sur une autre note, il plaisante que j’ai des jouets cachés dans la salle de bain dont je me sers et c’est pourquoi je suis si calme à propos de ceci haha ! Je suppose qu’on ne le saura jamais !

Mais sérieusement, je ne me plains jamais. Il me dévisage parfois avec incrédulité, comme si je vais le quitter d’une minute à l’autre, Il prétend que je suis cette “jeune et belle femme qui pourrait avoir affaire à un scénario totalement différent de celui-ci.” Et peut-être qu’il a raison. Mais chaque fois qu’il en parle, je dois lui rappeler que ce n’est pas pour ça que je l’ai épousé. Il y en a tellement plus ! Nos vœux n’avaient aucune mention de sexe ou d’érections donc nous n’allons pas tenir notre mariage par ces cordes.

Je finis ma douche, mets dans quelque chose de léger et me dirige vers la cuisine pour préparer le petit déjeuner. La mère de Mbaye est chez nous depuis quelques mois. Elle était censée rester deux semaines 🙃 mais elle est bien. On l’aime beaucoup.

Ce que je n’aime pas, c’est son commentaire non sollicité sur notre mariage. Nous étions en bons termes jusqu’à ce que je passe notre anniversaire d’un an sans grossesse. Les choses ont tourné au vinaigre à ce moment-là et je dois presque rire de cette étape obligatoire imposée aux mariages. Oublions une seconde le fait que son fils ne peut pas assurer (est-ce trop méchant ?). Que diriez-vous du plein gré ? Vous n’êtes pas prête pour un enfant ? Vous n’en voulez pas encore ? Je suppose que ça n’a pas d’importance. J’ai appris à la gérer lors de son séjour ici ; Je refuse de la laisser envahir ma paix.

Alors que je préparais les revirements rapides de la journée pour ma belle-mère bien-aimée, je l’entends descendre les escaliers. Que les jeux commencent !

Je fredonnais à la musique qui jouait doucement sur mon téléphone alors que je préparais des légumes pour mon omelette.

Fatim : Tu sais que tu ne peux pas cuisiner et écouter de la musique en même temps ; tu seras trop distraite ! S’ll te plaît, ne brûle pas mes oeufs parce que je me suis réveillée très faim aujourd’hui.

Laila : Votre taux de cholestérol a augmenté ces derniers temps, donc j’avais l’intention de vous faire de la farine d’avoine. Bonjour  !

Fatim :  Es-tu médecin maintenant ?

Laila : Ah j’aurais souhaité. Je me serais déjà diagnostiquée pour que vous ne preniez pas votre petit-déjeuner sans au moins un petit-enfant qui pourrait s’asseoir sur vos genoux.

Elle n’a même pas bronché à mon commentaire haha, elle se dirigea vers le salon et s’assit avec ses chapelets de prière, probablement souhaitant quelque chose de très mauvais sur moi. Je dois admettre qu’elle sait bien faire à ce jeu. C’est bien fait pour elle !

Mbaye :  Bonjour, yaay bóóy !

Petit prince descend et embrasse sa méchante mère sur la joue avant de venir dans la cuisine pour me donner un baiser. Je décide de le faire durer eheheh !

Fatim :  Si vous aviez fait ça là où vous devriez, dans la chambre, peut-être que j’aurais eu ce petit-enfant sur mes genoux maintenant.

Mbaye :  Mère !

Fatim :  Quoi ? Tu es la seule langue qui lutte avec ta femme devant moi ! Où est le respect ?

Laila : Je suis désolée, maman. On va arrêter. 

Mbaye :  Pouvez-vous juste vous comporter ? Prenons un petit déjeuner paisible, pour une fois.

Laila : Tu as raison ! Permettez-moi de me dépêcher avec ça et nous pouvons peut-être sortir et faire un peu de courses plus tard !

Fatim :  Oh oui, pour que tu puisses dépenser tout son argent, n’est-ce pas ?

Était-ce le moment de lui dire que je me fais plus d’argent que lui ou est-ce trop mesquin ? Je décide de sourire, et partir !

Mbaye :  Le petit déjeuner était délicieux, bébé ! Je te remercie !

Fatim :  Merci.

Laila : Pas de soucis, je suis contente que vous aimiez ! Laissez-moi nettoyer tout cela et me préparer pour sortir !

J’ai dégagé la table et chargé le lave-vaisselle, a propos duquel je suis sûre que Fatim me donnait un coup d’œil. Pourquoi ne voudrais-je pas rester trois fois plus de temps pour laver la vaisselle ? Que suis-je ? C’est normal ?

Après avoir redressé la cuisine, je commence à me diriger vers ma chambre, mais j’entends Fatim parler à Mbaye dans le salon. En général, je n’aurais pas de doutes à ce sujet, mais quelque chose était différente à propos de cette conversation. Mbaye parlait à son tour. J’ai essayé vraiment dur de continuer à marcher, mais quelque chose m’a dit de rester et d’écouter. C’était difficile d’entendre ce qu’ils disaient, mais je pouvais comprendre un peu.

Fatim :  Penses-y avant de l’escompter totalement. Elle comprendrait.

Mbaye :  Je ne pense pas que tu te rendes compte de ce que tu me demandes de faire.

Fatim :  Oh s’il te plaît. Ne fais pas comme si ce n’était jamais fait avant. Tu me fais passer pour la méchante.

Mbaye :  Ce n’est pas ça. Tu n’as pas toute l’histoire et tu ne peux pas me mettre dans une telle situation. J’aime ma femme.

Fatim :  Personne n’a dit que tu ne l’avais pas fait. Mais fils, pense à ton avenir. Qui prendra la relève pour toi ?

Mbaye :  Tu passes à côté du point. Ce n’est même pas quelque chose dont on a parlé avant de nous marier parce que ce n’est pas une condition pour qu’on reste ensemble.

Fatim :  Et je ne te demande pas de te séparer d’elle. Mais tu dois prendre une seconde femme. Tu es le seul fils que j’ai et je ne veux pas voir ton héritage se dépérir sous le couvert de cet amour sauvage que tu as en moment. Il y a plus dans la vie !

Mbaye :  Je ne fais pas ça.

Fatim :  Alors tu vas choisir cette femme au-dessus de toute ta famille ? Au-dessus de ta propre mère ?

Mbaye :  Ce n’est pas comme ça.

Fatim :  Alors, c’est comment ? Parce que je ne suis pas sûre de comprendre pourquoi ça en vaut la peine pour toi.

Mbaye :  Je suis le problème. Je l’ai toujours été.

Fatim :  Quoi ?

Mbaye : Quatre ans de mariage et je n’ai jamais été en mesure d’accomplir mes fonctions de mari. Et tu viens de valser ici en me disant de trahir la femme qui a été avec moi à travers tout ça et de ne pas s’être plainte une seule fois ! Tu n’as pas ce droit !

Il criait à ce moment-là. J’ai senti une larme tomber sur ma poitrine – merde ! Je ne savais même pas que j’écoutais encore, j’étais tellement immergée dans ma propre interprétation de la situation. Au début, je ne pouvais pas savoir si c’est ce que Fatim voulait vraiment, mais cela l’a confirmé. Et ça m’a libéré les larmes. Je savais qu’elle n’était pas mon plus grand fan, mais vraiment ?!

Mbaye :  Je veux que tu respectes mon mariage et que tu respectes ma femme. Je ne voulais pas avoir cette conversation avec toi, mais tu m’as poussé. Maintenant, s’il te plaît, respecte nos limites.

J’ai essayé de monter les escaliers avant que Mbaye ne puisse m’atteindre. Je serais mortifiée s’il me trouvait à écouter sa conversation, même si c’était à propos de MOI!

Je monte les escaliers et j’entends des pas derrière moi. J’avais été prise. Je me suis assise sur le lit, attendant que Mbaye vienne me châtier et me châtie au sujet de l’écoute clandestine. À ma grande surprise, c’était Fatim à la porte. Mon cœur s’est rétréci.

Fatim :  J’ai tellement honte.

Je n’ai pas parlé. Je veux dire, qu’est-ce que je devais dire. J’avais encore des restes de larmes dans les yeux, donc elle savait que j’avais tout entendu.

Fatim :  J’ai été trop dure avec toi et ce n’est pas juste. Je n’avais aucune idée de ce que vous combattiez et j’ai aveuglément pris le parti de mon fils sans comprendre.

J’étais encore calme. Qu’est-ce que cette femme voulait que je dise ?

Fatim :  Écoute, tu me détestes probablement en ce moment, mais j’espère que tu peux comprendre d’où je venais.

Cette déclaration m’a déclenchée. Cette femme essayait de justifier son comportement. Je croyais que c’étaient des excuses.

Laila : En fait, maman, non, je n’ai pas. Qu’est-ce qui te donne le droit d’envahir notre vie privée comme ça ? Et pas seulement ça, pour m’insulter, moi et mon mariage, pour tes propres désirs égoïstes ? Tu n’as pas à décider qui a un enfant et quand !

Fatim : Oui, je sais et je suis désolée. Je n’avais pas l’intention de t’insulter.

Laila : Tu penses que tu es la seule qui veut nous voir avoir des enfants ? Et nous ? Tu ne penses pas que c’est quelque chose qu’on a prié encore et encore ? Tu as déjà ta propre vie et tes enfants, reste en dehors de la mienne.

Fatim :  Je sais que tu es contrariée.

Laila : C’est une exagération. Je ne sais pas ce que je t’ai fait pour que tu me traites comme tu le fais. Maintenant, ta relation avec ton fils est la tienne seulement – je ne vais pas m’imposer là-bas. Mais tu dois me respecter ! Je ne vais plus faire les allers-retours avec toi.

Fatim :  Je suis d’accord, je suis désolée.

Je marche vers la porte et l’ouvre pour elle.

Laila : J’aimerais être seule. Je t’en prie.

J’en avais assez de ces regards constants qui jugeaient mes moindres mouvements.

Fatim :  Je veux que nous continuions à parler. Je veux résoudre ça, il n’est pas trop tard.

Laila : On m’a appelé tous les noms du livre parce que toi et ta famille n’aviez pas la preuve de mon “innocence”. Personne ne me respecte parce que tu penses que je vous DOIS quelque chose. Pendant tout ce temps, je suis allée à chaque hôpital et à chaque rendez-vous avec ton fils pour savoir ce qui ne va pas en lui. Je ne me soucie pas vraiment de ce que tu veux pour le moment. Ce que je veux, c’est que tu quittes ma chambre.

Mbaye est entré au même moment où je disais ça et j’ai senti une ruée d’émotions sur moi. Les larmes ont recommencé à couler sur mon visage.

Mbaye :  Laila, calme-toi. Maman, peux-tu nous donner un moment.

Fatim s’en alla lentement, se sentant vaincue.

Mbaye :  Bébé, je sais ce que tu ressens en ce moment. Et je suis désolé que tu aies dû entendre ces choses de ma mère. Ce n’est pas la première fois qu’elle en parle, mais je veux que tu saches que je ne te ferais jamais ça. Tu m’as montré tellement de grâce et de patience que tout ce à quoi je peux penser, chaque jour, c’est comment te donner un sourire sur le visage. Je ne te trahirais jamais. S’il te plaît, crois-moi.

Laila : C’est tellement blessant.

Mbaye :  Je sais, mais je veux que tu saches que tu as un mari qui t’aime, te respecte et te chérit. Et ce n’est pas parce que tu as été avec moi à chaque étape de cette condition. C’est parce qu’on a de l’histoire ensemble. Avant même que cela n’entre en scène, nous avons construit quelque chose de beau ensemble et j’ai choisi de consacrer ma vie à te rendre heureuse. N’oublie jamais ça.

Laila : Je n’ai pas oublié. Et je le sais. Mais elle a besoin de comprendre le sens des limites.

Mbaye :  Je m’en occuperai. Tu n’as plus à t’inquiéter pour ça. Je te le promets. Maintenant, peux-tu s’il te plaît te ressaisir afin que nous puissions aller faire des courses ?

Laila : Est-ce qu’elle vient ?

Mbaye :  Ne sois pas mesquine.

Je la laisserais volontiers dans cette maison toute seule pendant que je passe la journée avec mon homme. Mais comme je n’ai pas de rancune, je vais laisser tomber et décider d’aller de l’avant, d’autant plus que mon bébé m’a défendu comme il l’a fait. Au moins maintenant, elle sait que la solution à nos problèmes sans enfant n’était pas d’ajouter une autre femme à la situation. Elle ne le sera jamais. C’était certainement un bon sentiment pour elle de savoir enfin, même si elle devait être au détriment du pauvre Mbaye et le dévoilement total de son état. Inutile de dire que le parcours faire les courses de l’après-midi était très maladroit. Elle a même essayé de collaborer avec moi sur “réparer Mbaye”. Haha cette femme n’abandonne jamais. Je suis heureuse qu’elle ait bien inculqué cette même conduite à Mbaye parce qu’il est déterminé à se faire traiter. Presqu’aussi déterminé à trouver cette cachette de jouets sexuels que j’ai apparemment caché dans notre salle de bain😉.

BAMBA

Tout ce que j’ai toujours voulu, c’est d’avoir assez pour subvenir aux besoins de ma famille et de moi-même. Il est difficile d’avoir une lourde charge sur les épaules. Je me dis parfois qu’il est très difficile d’être un homme quand on a tous les regards portés sur soi. Plus tu vieillis, plus les responsabilités s’accumulent et la plupart ne peuvent être ignorées.

Ma vie est une vie avec de constantes inquiétudes … craignantd’être un bon fils, un ami, un petit ami, un mari, un père, un employé, etc. Les gens oublient souvent les difficultés d’un homme parce que nous sommes censés être si forts, forts pour les autres. Il n’y a jamais de possibilité pour nous de marquerune pause, de demander de l’aide auprès de quelqu’un d’autre ou de montrer des signes de faiblesse. Toutes ces pensées se sont formatées dans ma tête récemment, m’inquiétant beaucoup au moment où je pense aux personnes les plus importantes de ma vie. Ai-je bien fait pour elles ?

Ma chère Kiné, je sais que je ne suis pas à la hauteur pourêtre le meilleur mari pour toi, celui que tu mérites. Tu as été là avec moi à travers vents et marées et je ne peux que prier pour que Dieu me permette de t’apporter le bonheur, la paix et la joie que tu mérites. Nous sommes ensemble depuis longtemps et tu n’as jamais failli. J’aurais aimé pouvoir dire la même chose – ça me démange à l’intérieur de savoir que je suis sorti de ta vie et de notre mariage. Cela me fait encore plus mal de savoir que tu m’as pardonné pour cela. Je ne peux pas teregarder dans les yeux – pas de la même façon. Je ne te mérite pas mais tu m’aimes toujours de la même manière. Je promets de continuer à travailler sur moi-même afin qu’un jour, tupuisses dire que tout ce que tu as vécu n’a pas été en vain.

Mes jumeaux, à un moment de ma vie où je n’étais pas prêt à être papa, Dieu m’a fait une surprise avec vous deux. Je me souviens bien d’avoir eu mal à l’estomac quand j’ai appris que le médecin avait annoncé que la grossesse était des jumeaux.Une vague d’émotions m’envahissait – de peur, d’exaltation, d’anxiété et même de fuite. Nous n’avions pas envisagé d’avoir un seul enfant en ce moment-là, et encore moins deux. Mais encore une fois, c’était une de ces responsabilités qui ne pouvait et ne devait pas être rejetée. Lorsque vous êtes entrésdans ma vie, j’ai su pour la première fois ce que signifiait d’être un homme. Je savais que le mot égoïste devait être jeté par la fenêtre. Je ne pouvais plus * décider * si je voulais ou non faire ce que vous vouliez (un choix sur lequel j’ai gaffédevant votre mère plus d’une fois). Je devais faire ce qui était juste et ce qui était bien, c’était de vous aimer, de subvenir à vos besoins, de vous apprendre la vie, et de vous inculquer des valeurs morales et des valeurs qui feraient de vous demeilleurs hommes comme moi. Vous êtes pratiquement « de grands hommes » maintenant et ce fut un chemin difficile mais gratifiant de vous voir devenir de bons jeunes hommes. S’il y a un conseil que je peux vous donner, c’est de ne jamais vaincre votre colère contre ceux qui n’ont rien fait pour le mériter. Gardez la tête haute et soyez tendre!

Souhibou. Tu es à un âge fragile où tu es si malléable et j’ai l’impression que j’ai une deuxième chance de pouvoir bien faire les choses. Tu es très têtu – comme moi d’ailleurs à ton âge, je suppose que je ne peux rien te reprocher. Mais cela m’effraie de voir à quel point tu es comme moi quand j’avais ton âge. Cela rend la tâche plus difficile et je me demande : «Est-ce que c’est ce que j’ai fait subir à mes parents ? ». Mais tu es intelligent, alors j’espère que tu comprendras mieux cette chose qui s’appelle la vie. J’espère que ton sens de l’humour t’empêchera de vautrer dans les sombres réalités… Je prie.Même si tu es jeune, je peux voir le potentiel d’une telle grandeur en toi. Je n’ai pas de préféré entre vous trois garçons, mais je sens une connexion différente avec toi. Je sais que Dieu t’a introduit dans ma vie quand j’avais besoin d’un appel à la réalité. J’avais considéré tellement de choses comme acquises et tu as réorienté ma vie et lui as donné un sens. J’ai tout de suite senti que je te devais à toi, à tes frères et à tamère, de m’avoir permis de faire des efforts. Merci pour ça.

Mes parents. Que la terre de ce Monde cruel soit légère et douce sur vous. J’avais l’intention de vous rendre fiers. Je ne sais pas si j’ai réussi – du moins pas pendant que vous étiez encore là. Je sais que je vous ai donné à tous les deux de la peine à certains moments, mais j’espère que vous savez que je n’ai rien fait avec une intention malveillante. J’essayais simplement de trouver ma place sur cette Terre et de m’établir comme mon propre homme, pas simplement comme substitut de vos choix. Je n’ai pas réussi dans tous les domaines de ma vie et je sais que si vous étiez ici, vous me feriez une leçon sur une chose ou une autre, surtout toi, maman. Mais je dois être honnête pour une seconde et dire que je me suis bien débrouillé, surtout compte tenu de la pression que vous avez exercée sur moi et des choix pas si exemplaires que vous avez faits… pardonnez-moi si ce n’est pas à moi de le dire. Vous me manquez tous les deux.

Dior. Je suis désolé pour tout ce que je t’ai fait subir. Je pourrais blâmer le fait que j’étais jeune et bête, mais ce reproche n’excuse pas mon échec. Je n’ai pas bien fait avec toiet j’ai échoué notre amour. Nous avions quelque chose de spécial et je sais que je ne me suis pas battu pour cela comme j’aurais dû. Et bien sûr, avec le temps, nous avons tous les deux dépassé cela, mais je ne peux pas m’empêcher de me demander si tu penses à moi de temps en temps. Je pense certainement à toi. Je suis désolé pour tout ce que ma mère a dit sur toi et je suis désolé de ne pas t’avoir défendue. J’ai toujours espéré que tu comprendrais ma situation, même si je ne t’ai jamais donné la fin dont tu avais besoin. Je n’ai pas de tes nouvelles mais j’espère que tu vis une vie de bonheur et de réussite – tu as toujours été très brillante…

Bamba. C’est un long parcours sur lequel tu es maintenant. Et ce ne sera plus facile. Si quelque chose il y aura ce sera plus de responsabilités. N’hésite pas à les embrasser et admettre quand tu fais des erreurs. Pas seulement pour toi mais pour les personnes qui comptent. Il y a une chose contre laquelle tu astoujours gardé une colère, c’était quand il s’agissait de tes propres parents. Tu n’es pas invincible et tu n’as pas toujours raison. Admets-le et essaie d’être une meilleure personne, un mari, un père, quelle que soit ta chance. Sois humble.

Nous, les hommes, sommes souvent appelés à assumer les difficiles responsabilités d’une famille. Nous sommes les soutiens de familles. Dans les hôpitaux, c’est nous qui recevons les mauvaises nouvelles en premiers, car il y a uneconviction que nous pouvons y faire face. J’ai toujours trouvé ça drôle. Notre base émotionnelle n’est jamais considérée comme une seconde idée et ce n’est pas acceptable. Nous avons nos propres démons que nous combattons et on ne peut pas continuer à être des super-héros tout le temps. Ces nuits-là, je reste éveillé en pensant à toutes les fois où je n’étais pas un super-héros et je suis sûr que je ne suis pas le seul homme au monde retenu la nuit par de telles pensées. Tout ce que nous pouvons faire est de faire de notre mieux, mais laissez-moi vous dire que ce n’est pas une mince affaire…

TIDIANE

CLARA: “ñaareel xaritu jëkkëram” – second wife

I know he loves me more. He left her home so many times to be with me and I never understood why he stayed with her if he said he loved me so much. She’s basically his maid; she does everything in the house. I gotta give it to her because I don’t have the patience. 

When we were dating, he always told me about how she would nag him to the point where he felt like he had to go look for peace somewhere else. He calls me his paradise, his al-jannah! ❤

We dated for three years before we got married. It took three years because I was in school and my parents wanted me to finish before jumping into marriage. I still didn’t wait until I finished; all my friends were getting married and I can do school and married life at the same time. It’s really not that big of a deal.

I will say that our age difference makes a lot of people look twice. He’s 19 years older than me. I’m 20. I really don’t think it’s that big of an age gap personally, he’s not 40 yet! We’re happy together and that’s all that matters.

His wife got pregnant before they were even married. I never can truly respect her. He told me about it while we were dating and it was in the back of my mind every time I thought about joining her in that house. It was one leg up I had on her. I couldn’t wait to use it as ammunition one day. 

The bottom line is if he was truly happy at home, he wouldn’t have come to me. These first wives think they have such a hold on their husbands. Little do they know the things they’re up to when they leave home. My theory is I didn’t go chasing after anyone – he came to me and we clicked. I bring new meaning to his life that his wife could never and if she doesn’t like that, it’s not my problem. We’re both his wives now so that whole “I have been here for 15+ years” narrative is dead. I have just as many rights as she does and my kids will have just as much access to his heritage as hers.

HENRIETTE: Clara’s mom

I wanted more for my daughter – higher visions and hopes! I grew up in a polygamous household and I saw all the troubles it brought with it. There is never true peace and tranquility inside those homes; somebody is always upset about something. For me, it was seeing my mother expend all this effort to please my father, only for him to rinse and repeat that treatment with his other wives on different days. None of it felt real.

I wanted Clara to finish her studies and get a great job, providing for herself. But she’s rushed into this marriage despite my warnings – especially going into a situation where one, the man is so much older than her and two, she doesn’t have him to herself. Everyone has this notion that all men are unfaithful. I like to think that’s not true. I married my husband after 3 years of dating and have stood firmly on my values of respect and honesty. I imposed that on our relationship from the beginning and he knew exactly what kind of treatment I would and wouldn’t accept. I am not saying he would never cheat on me. I am saying he knows if he did, I would never stick around for it. That’s the major difference. We can’t tell people what they can’t do – especially adults. But you can tell yourself how you’re going to react and I spent my entire adult life wishing away the scenario I grew up in for my own children. I wanted better for them so I went to school and built a career for myself and showed them that each and every single one of them must be independent!

I am not saying I failed Clara. She’s an adult and she has to make her own choices. I am just saying I wish she made a different one.

ABIBATOU: “Aawo buuru këram” – first wife

I met him when I was 14. We went to school together and everyone knew we liked each other. Around age 16, we started officially dating and have been together ever since. 

My parents liked him from the get-go. Our dads were companions and were touched by the idea that their bond would be further strengthened if their kids ended up together. This was nice … until it stood in the way each time I complained to my father about Tidiane’s behavior. Whether it was cheating, verbal abuse, physical abuse, ignoring me for days on end, or humiliating me in front of other women, the answer was always the same: “divorce is not an option. Go back to your home.” It didn’t help that I had our first child before we officially got married either… doesn’t leave me much room for bargaining.

It’s not always bad. In fact, some days are really good. He can be sweet and gentle when he wants to be. It’s just when this shirt isn’t washed properly or that dish isn’t prepared the way he likes that we quarrel. But when we do, it’s bad.

I remember the day he told me he married Clara. Well, not really much of telling; more like I found out and confronted him about it. One of my girlfriends called me one evening and broke the news to me. I still didn’t say anything because I wanted to hear it from him directly. He sent his best friend Pape a few days later instead. There was very little respect or regard how what he had done. “I’m allowed to have up to four wives Aby. I didn’t sign up for monogamous marriage with you!” There wasn’t much I could say to that and telling my parents would be a waste of breath. My father was polygamous.

I don’t know how to feel anymore. Over the years, I’ve learned to censor my feelings to the point where they almost stopped counting. There was never anything I could say to make him do anything that he didn’t want to do. Our marriage is very one-sided with me doing most of the work, emotionally and otherwise, to maintain the peace. 

SOKHNA: Abibatou’s daughter

I know my mom is hurting but I’m more furious.

Clara is my age. She cannot be my aunt. Not under these circumstances. And the most frustrating part is people look at me as if I have 10 eyes when I express my anger – as if they can’t fathom why on Earth I would be upset.

I am the oldest of my siblings. I have two brothers and three sisters. We are in school and trying to get everything done and make our parents proud. I am in my 3rd year of Uni and just so angry that I get these phone calls with a new problem every day. It’d be one thing if Clara came into our house with peace declarations. Everybody is already unhappy about my dad’s decision and she comes in adding fuel to the fire. She’s disrespectful, petty, and conniving. My father can’t see any flaw in her so usually, if she gets into it with anybody, she’s automatically protected and forgiven by my father while the rest of us receiving lectures about “respect and accepting God’s will.” It’s such a cop-out excuse.

I hate going home for Holidays or from breaks from school these days. It’s always negative energy. I stand up for my mom but she tries to keep me quiet too… she doesn’t want me involved in any way. But I don’t really care. As long as that witch keeps coming for my family, I will be sure to put her in her place each and every single time. Spare me with the “she’s your father’s wife” drama. She’s a bitch and that’s all she’ll ever be in my eyes.

PAPE – Tidiane’s best friend

I had to be the one to break the news to Abibatou. She’s been a part of my life since we were young – we all went to school together, man. It was a gloomy day telling her that Tidiane was getting married. I got dragged into it because apparently, I had to be the one to console her. Me. Not Tidiane. Let me know what sense that makes.

I decided I could never get a second wife. Not after seeing how it ripped Aby apart and especially not after seeing how Tidiane’s life has gotten 10X harder since he married Clara. Our conversations revolve around his issues every single day. We can’t talk about anything else. It’s consumed him.

I don’t want that for myself. Our group of friends have a hybrid of men who have multiple wives and those who have just one. And I can tell you the ones with just one have a lot less stress when it comes to the married life department. I warned Tidiane against doing it but these things, once set in motion, there’s very little that can be taken back. Clara’s hopes were up and he had gone too far, he couldn’t take anything back.

I feel for my brother. He just has to accept the consequences of his actions and take it one day at a time, I guess. I mean it’s literally something new every day. If the wives aren’t fighting, his kids are rebelling. It’s crazy how quickly things can change.

TIDIANE: “ndéyu mbill mi” – the cause of it all

I love them in different ways.  They each mean something different to me.

Abibatou is my heart. I met her so young and we grew up together. We taught each other so much in life and there will never be another woman who can replace her in my heart or in my life. Nothing could ever make me un-love this woman. Over the past 18 years of marriage, she’s let herself go a bit. I know the kids take up a lot of her time but she just doesn’t try anymore. We’ve had more frequent arguments because everything has a comeback – she has a response for everything and I can’t tolerate that. I’m never going to give up on her but she definitely has her flaws.

Clara, my sweet Clara. She’s my fountain of youth. Meeting her gave me a new ticket on life when I thought mine was headed downhill. She’s just been so perfect and understanding of my situation. A lot of people fault me for “stepping out” on my marriage and “abandoning Aby.” I didn’t do either of those things; I just reclaimed a happiness that has escaped me for so long. And I couldn’t let that pass me. Many will disagree but Clara means something so special to me. She’s a sweet girl with so many ambitions. The spark in her eyes sets my soul on fire! I see nothing but greatness in our future.

I would never choose between the two of them. They hold special places in my heart and I stand by that. 

The arguments and the fights, they’ll subdue. Over time, everyone’s hearts will become more accepting of the situation and it’ll become easier. My pockets won’t make it (this polygamy business is expensive!) but we’ll get there and it would have all been worth it. You just watch.

To my family, know that I didn’t do any of this with ill intentions. I love you all so much and hope we can make this work! Allah declared that this would be my destiny and there’s nothing I can do about that.

LOLOTALKS: LOLO CYNTHIA

Let’s talk about S-E-X!

Did that get your attention? 😉 Today, we have one of my favorite Instagrammers, Lolo Cynthia, talking to us about various topics, such as sexual health, the role of women in a developing society, and much more! She’s a force to be reckoned with and her content is thought-provoking, insightful, and delivered in a manner that allows us to have dialogue!

Instagram: @lolo_cy

Hello! My name is Lolo Cynthia and that’s what I prefer to go by! 
 
I have my Bachelor’s in Public Health Sciences and a post-graduate in HIV & Health Management at Monash University. I resided in South Africa (SA) before coming back to Nigeria.
 
Growing up in Nigeria, issues about sex and sexuality were covered with secrecy or portrayed negatively to deter people from it – you’d see in movies things like a girl has an abortion and she dies or if she gets pregnant out of wedlock, their mother is shouting at them. No one talks about condoms or really anything related to sexual health and sexuality.
 
Living in South Africa, I noticed it was quite the opposite. They were very outspoken about sex and HIV – these were topics that people did not shy away from. In bathrooms in my University, condoms were available for picking so it was engrained in the society really. The contrast and linked experiences opened my eyes to the possibilities of what we could do in Nigeria for sexual health. That’s something that triggered my passion for sexual health and sexuality.
 
My upbringing is pretty simple – I am the first child of six. I have four younger sisters and one brother. Some live in SA, some live in Nigeria. My last sister is 12 years old so I’m like a second mother! I went back and forth between SA and Nigeria, lived in boarding House, was in SA for University, where I lived alone for 5 years then finally got back to Nigeria. 

Importance of talking about sexual health, especially in African societies

It’s painful that it’s a taboo topic because our sexuality is literally one of the biggest factors of being a human being. Of the driving forces of every human being, sex is always in the top three. So when you take away that element that makes us whole, it strips you of other parts of you. In Africa where they believe that only men should have (they only strip it from women – and when they give it back to you, it’s for you to serve men, it’s never for your own enjoyment or use) – for men, they have been given that right and privilege, it’s their birthright actually, that’s the way it’s portrayed to see themselves as sexual beings.
The way you see yourself as a human being and the way you connect with other people because sexuality is not just about sex, it’s about how you connect with other people.

When you have been robbed of that – let’s take the example of when you’re walking down the street and your body moves. It’s taken as something that’s bad – it’s not understood that your body is meant to move. When you create shame around that and make women feel guilty for things their bodies naturally do, by slut-shaming essentially, you rob them of their full spectrum to be human.

The reasons why we need to talk about sexual health are endless. If we take HIV as an example, the fact that Nigeria has the highest rate of HIV-born kids on the continent – talk about maternal mortality with abortion being the major contributor – these are preventable deaths. It’s because people don’t have access to contraceptives and they continue to be infected or die from abortions because they don’t have access to safe care (i.e. abortion services).

Teenage pregnancies are avoidable too- girls, not just boys, have access to condoms and boys are taught that sex is not something you take. Having these conversations allows for a healthier society.

Lack of information and knowledge has given room for stigma and ignorance. A young girl going through puberty and is more developed than some of her peers will be seen as loose or a bad girl because it’s assumed if a man touches your breasts, then they grow. So that lie is perpetuated and used to slut-shame developed young girls for no reason. Ignorant beliefs lead to shame for young girls who don’t understand. Again, it goes beyond sexual health and sexuality – it goes into how we connect with other people. The sexual script is that women are meant to not initiate or want sex – even if a man approaches her, she can’t give in too easily and she must be persuaded or coerced. She’s not allowed to want sex on her own or she’ll seem loose. 
 
When we think about things like consent and the MeToo Movement – there’s a reason why things like this have been going on for so long (it’s still very Hollywood and hasn’t reached the non-West by the way) – is because dangerous social norms are being perpetuated. That’s why discussing sex and sexuality and sexual health is so very, very important. We can talk about virginity concepts and so much more. For example the idea that if you put an egg into a girl’s vagina, the egg will drop — all to shame women. It’s never-ending.

How I got started with my videos and educational content creation

I started in 2014 – with a webcam (while I was pursuing my 2nd degree) – I wanted to do a talk show which failed horribly (laughs). But I was inspired by people like Makinwa – I saw her video blog and thought I could do that too!

At first I was talking about relationships and throwing a little bit of sex in there (I talked about how to masturbate – haha I went all out). Topics like how do you masturbate and dealing with being an independent woman who still gets lonely. Those were some of the things I talked about at first in 2014. As I began to grow, the topics became more complex. I started to talk about feminism and social norms – I felt I could do more. I wanted to talk about the roots and causes of things, not just be superficial.

Over time, I realized that people were eager to learn about sex and sexuality. To be honest, I shied away from it at first because I didn’t want to be put into a box of “oh look at her, she’s talking about sex na, how does she know?” You know how they are! It’s a stigma so I would always dabble and talk about the educational aspect of it too. I realized that was my calling. I was good at it and I enjoyed it. It’s taken a few years for me to get here but it’s been since 2014.

Handling negative feedback

If you look at my Facebook, I get called names like prostitute, cheap. I am pro-choice which is something I wear boldly, and because of that, I hear things like I hate children and I am teaching women to be loose. But I know that when I’m talking about sexual health, people receive that knowledge. They’re eager to learn about STIs, how the penis works, how the clitoris functions – more of the educational aspect of it. There’s a disparity – they want the facts but not necessarily commenting on the cultural aspects of it. But like anything, if you’re talking about taboo topics, you’re going to get negative and positive feedback. I’m used to it all now. 

Role of women in society

Women are the cornerstone – I cannot overemphasize – in most countries, women make up almost 50% of the total population – it doesn’t make sense to eliminate or silence the voice of 50% of your population. There is no way the country can develop. Apart from talking about feminism and sexual health, it’s literally just common sense. Women have a huge part to play when it comes to development. Our realities, views on life, and perspectives are very different from men. We widen the perspective – economic, health, financial, all of it. It’s no coincidence that some of the most developed countries have women’s right at the top of their priorities – it’s common sense, it just makes sense. 

If half of your population is not empowered, you cannot get to the top of your game. Period.

Role Model & Life Mottos

I know it sounds narcissistic but I am my own role model.

Of course, there are other people that I look up to like Linda Ikeji (her experiences are similar to mine); she’s a Nigerian, serious business-woman that stands strong despite the backlash she receives. Oprah Winfrey of course is an inspiration of mine. I also admire Mo Abdul for how she shapes media and carries her business.

But I really am my own role model – I admire people and respect and follow their work but I am my first role model.

My two life mottos are:
The only constant in life is change 
Connect the dots

The two are inter-connected. No matter where you are in life and how things are going, you can be somewhere different tomorrow and when you look back, you realize that everything happens for a reason and everything that happened is what got you to where you are today.

I’d like to share a little anecdote with you.
Growing up, I wouldn’t say I was crazy but I was quite wild/outspoken! No one who knows me now would have guessed this is where I would end up or believe that I was a girl when I was 17. People made their assumptions that I was going to end up pregnant and cut me off, assuming my future would be bleak. After a few years and maturing, I realized that 17 year old me led to me being who I am today. It’s why I have insights into some of these taboo topics – I’ve been there and lived with it. I have chilled with sex workers and thugs and not be afraid to engage in conversations with them. Those guys used to be my friends and I had influence with them. Now, I’m channeling it into the right way and educating others. So I was able to connect the dots and my life now is certainly influenced by who I was a few years ago. I had the power to change and the power to say “no.” I’m not gonna be who everyone is assuming I will be because I know I can do more. Those are my two mantras!

——–

I am so honored to have had Lolo Cynthia with us this week share her story, passion, and wisdom with us! For far too long and still to this day, topics like this are considered taboo in African societies (with the exception of a few). The idea that talking about sex promotes it is something we need to eradicate in our societies and it all starts with talking about it! Thank you again Lolo Cynthia for your time. For continuous and amazing content on sexual health topics, follow her in Instagram at @lolo_cy!

Learn. Preach. Share. Educate.

THIANDELLA

It was the night of their wedding and all the guests had gone home. They were preparing for their honeymoon but there was something standing in the way. Madeleine owed her family one clarification before leaving: her virginity. They had to give the verdict.

It was 4 AM, three hours after the couple snuck off from the wedding party and made it to their honeymoon suite. Both had showered and mentally prepared themselves for their first night together. Neither of them were virgins but they did wait for their wedding night to be with one another. It was an awkward encounter, despite the year they dated and spent many moments alone.

The next morning…

Madeleine was sitting on the bed, crying uncontrollably. She didn’t know what to say.

Thiandella: Madeleine, talk to me. Stop crying.

Madeleine: I’m so sorry! 

She couldn’t even look up at him.

Thiandella: Look, There’s no need to cry. Talk to me like the adults we are. 

Madeleine: What could I possibly say after such a huge disappointment?

Thiandella: What disappointment? Madeleine, please don’t tell me you’re crying about this whole virginity thing? Listen, I know that’s a tradition but I’m not into that stuff. I mean, it would have been nice to be the first man to have you but I never made it a requirement.

Madeleine: You don’t understand. My whole family is waiting on your call right now.

Thiandella: I can call them.

Madeleine: And tell them what!? They’re going to want proof.

Madeleine was from a very conservative family that “has never been shamed” and she didn’t want to be the first to bring that shame.

Thiandella: Baby, I am going to tell them that I’m very happy with my wife … because I am. I love you and I didn’t want our first night together to be of you crying nonstop. 

Madeleine: They’re going to want proof … the white sheet my mom gave me last night. There’s no blood.

Thiandella: I can’t believe we’re doing this right now. 

Madeleine: That’s easy for you to say. My badiane is probably on her way over here as we speak. This is what they do.

Thiandella: And did you really think the night of our wedding was the appropriate time to tell me about all these protocols? Why wouldn’t you say something earlier? 

Madeleine: I’m sorry! I’m just scared about what to do… I don’t know what to say.

Thiandella got up at this point and walked into the kitchenette in their hotel suite. Madeleine sat up, worriedly, on the bed, contemplating her next move. She heard the coffee machine whirring from the bed. She quietly gets up from the bed and walks into the kitchen, to join her husband.

Madeleine: I can’t say it enough, but I’m so sorry for putting you in this situation. I wish I knew what to do.

Thiandella: Do you love me?

Madeline: More than you know.

Thiandella: Okay and I love you. That’s really all that counts for me at this point. And I know your family is into this virginity shit but I really think it’s time we set them straight. Be honest with them. How many more years are they going to keep this tradition?

Madeleine: You want them to kill me?! Are you mad? My mother would never let me live it down and God, my dad. I can’t even imagine. 

Thiandella: You’re my wife. If I don’t make a fuss about it, why should they?

Madeleine: This mental utopia you live in is just too good to be true. I know we don’t live here but the realities still exist! 

Thiandella: That may be true but you know I’m right. I don’t even want to call anyone regarding my wife’s virginity. It’s no one’s business.

Madeleine: It’s my whole family’s business.

Thiandalla: I’m going to fault you on this one. Not because you’re not a virgin because I knew that but because you wait until now to have this conversation with me. We should have been on our honeymoon by now! I would have been better prepared if I had known your family was this zealous about it!

Madeleine was quiet; she knew he was right. Every time she wanted to bring it up, she thought it would run him away. That it would be too much for someone who didn’t grow up in that environment to understand. Thiandella’s family was so open-minded and free. His sister never had to undergo this phase when she got married. But her family was different. They are very traditional and don’t plan to budge on those traditions anytime soon. Both she and Thiandella lived in Seattle, Washington but wanted to have their wedding back in Senegal around family and friends. They didn’t realize that came with a hefty price.

Thiandella: Look, I’m sorry, I don’t mean to add more stress to what you’re already going through. Why don’t you take a shower and refresh while I make us some breakfast. Ca te fera du bien.

Madeleine: Okay.

While Madeleine was in the shower, Thiandella got a knock at the door. It was Madeleine’s infamous badiane, here to retrieve both the news of her virginity as well as the white sheet she spent her first conjugal night on.

Thiandella: Please, have a seat. I will be right back.

Thiandella discreetly grabbed a knife on his way back to the bedroom. The shower was still running and Madeleine was having a full blown concert. He was happy to hear her blowing off some steam in the midst of all the drama. He walked over to the bed, knife in hand, and examined a spot on his body appropriate for cutting. He was going to honor his wife one way or another. Swiftly, he made a small incision in his chest, squeezing tiny drops of blood out. With his fingers, he guides the blood from his chest to the white sheet, staining the sheet. He rubbed the sheet into itself, attempting to reduce the freshness of the blood. Feeling satisfied, he lifts the sheet from the bed, fold it neatly, and put on a hoddie, and walk out into the living room.

Thiandella: Badiane, I want you to know that I am very pleased with my wife. Everything I have ever wanted, I have. Here.

He hands her the sheet, which she readily accepts.

Badiane: Alhamdoulilah. You just lifted a huge weight off my shoulders – off of our entire family’s shoulders. Thank you very much!

Thiandella: That’s no issue, Badiane. Thank you for everything. 

Badiane: May Allah reward you both with beautiful children of Islam!

Thiandella: Ameen Badiane.

Badiane: Amatouma togguay [I can’t stay any longer]. Her mother is waiting on me to get back with the news. I’ll be on my way.

Thiandella: Here, use this as pass.

Thiandella takes 10.000 cfa from his wallet and hands it over to Badiane.

Badiane: Yallah nako Yallah yombal dom. Dieureudieuf!

After Madeleine’s shower…

Thiandella: Badiane stopped by.

Madeleine dropped her lotion in shock.

Madeleine: What?! When?! What did she say?

Thiandella: Shhh, calm down. I already took care of everything. 

Madeleine: What do you mean?

Thiandella grabbed her hand and sat her down on the bed. It was at this moment she noticed the white sheet her mother gave her was gone. She stared at her husband in disbelief. Thiandella opened the zipper to his hoodie, revealing his bruised chest.

Madeleine:Oh! 

She immediately started crying.

Thiandella: I made a vow to you, to always love you and protect you. And that has nothing to do with your family. I didn’t think I had to protect you from your own family, especially not so early in our marriage but I want you to know that I’m willing to do this and even more if it means keeping you safe and happy. You’re worth more than this to me Madeleine. 

She was at a loss for words. She couldn’t believe what he had done for her.

“How can I ever repay you?” she cried out between tears.

Thiandella took her into his arms and consoled her. “Our relationship will never be quid pro quo. We will never owe each other favors or keep track of points. We’re in this together and that’s that.”

She didn’t know what to say. That seemed to be her anthem throughout the night.

Thiandella: But you have to tell me everything. This night could have gone down completely differently if you told me about your mom and Badiane long ago. We can’t have a solid marriage when things are left out.

Madeleine: I know and that was 100% my miss. I’m so sorry. Please forgive me.

Thaindella: Consider yourself forgiven! Now can I please enjoy our first moments as a wedded couple in peace? Bari ngua ay caprices trop!

Madeleine smiled shyly and followed her husband into the kitchen. She felt a wave of relief flow through her.

Madeleine: I love you so much.

Thiandella smiled and grabbed the honeymoon welcome packet sitting next to the coffee machine! “So, Tanzania, huh?!”

LA CITRINE HAIR: NDEYE DIENG

Over the course of the interview series, I have gained some new inspirations and friends. Ndeye Dieng is one of them! When I tell you guys she is the epitome of exceptional client relationships, I mean it! She does everything with heart and follows through until you’re 100% satisfied. She leaves no stone unturned and we’re so honored to have her this week as she tells us a little about herself and her hair business, La Citrine Hair! ❤

My name is Ndèye Dieng; I am from Senegal. I have two beautiful girls and I am married to my best friend. I am the founder and CEO of “La Citrine Hair” created in September 2018.

Since becoming a mother, I find that my children have become my greatest motivation. Don’t get me wrong, I do want to grow and get better for myself as well, but feeling the need to realize things for them and becoming an example to them keeps me going. I had to go for my dreams. My girls in fact inspired the name of my business. They are both November babies and the Citrine stone is one of November’s birth stones. The Citrine stone which is also called “The lucky merchant stone” is believed to be a healing stone and is associated to many positive affirmations one of my favorites being “I create the World that I want”.

My ultimate role model is the Prophet Muhammad PBUH. We are taught that he was as perfect as one could be with the all characteristics of an exceptional human being, so there is no greater role model. But I do have a more realistic, more attainable one. Someone I get to call my family, my Cousin Diélé whom I couldn’t have built la Citrine Hair without. She is everything I would like to become: a wonderful wife, mother, sister, business owner, philanthropist! The list goes on. She inspires me.

My motto is : “If you are going to do it, then do it with your heart” ; I am proud to say that I am a very honest person and to me honesty and heart go hand-in-hand, which actually translate into my business which I unequivocally run with integrity. I believe in treating every client as V.I.P. I actually enjoy all their questions, mainly those they consider “silly”. I’m all about providing a whole experience and not just a product.

Getting into the beauty industry was definitely fate mixed with passion! I’ve always had a strong love for everything beauty! I always enjoyed dressing up and doing my hair and others’ when they let me! Coming to the U.S ( Dallas, Texas) as an international student majoring in Finance working in african hair braiding salons became my part time job. It wasn’t one I particularly enjoyed but unbeknownst to me, God was preparing me for what was ahead. I learned a lot even when I wasn’t conscious of it. After moving to NYC I got into the hospitality industry and was lucky enough to work in 4 and 5 star establishments which have instilled in me unparalleled customer service skills. God works in mysterious ways! These jobs that I accidentally fell into armed me with everything I needed to start a successful business. This is not the path I imagined for myself when I left my beloved Senegal, but Im absolutely loving the ride.

Senegal, the country of “Terranga” (hospitality)! You’ll find that most Senegalese are open and very generous, especially with food. Senegalese women are particularly beautiful; we come in such a wide range of beauty. I believe we posess a certain sensual charm and elegance. Our men are strong in character and hard working. We are a very proud people. In the next 10 to 20 years, and hopefully before, I see our people loving ourselves more and I mean as a unity because it all starts with self love. Love so great we won’t accept living in a beatutiful mansion and normalize trash piling up in our streets; love so great we won’t be able to sleep in a comfortable king size bed with Talibés famished and sleeping on the ground around the corner. Which brings me to Theforgottenchildren.org created by a senegalese family residing here in the united states. They are doing a wonderful job building a boarding school for the kids but they cannot do it alone and I’m inviting anyone who is able to assist them in achieving this goal.

——–

I am just in awe at her tenacity and determination to make her work stand for itself, and it truly does. If you’re looking for great customer service and amazing hair, hit up Ndeye! I personally made an order with her where she was with me every step of the way, helping me pick the best shape and color for my face and when I opened my professionally packaged unit, I had extra goodies waiting for me in there! You will not be disappointed working with her. You can also check out her work (which includes tutorials and Q&A on our most pressing beauty questions) on her Instagram page @la_citrinehair.

Ndeye, THANK YOU for sharing your precious time with us! Keep on Shinin’ sis!

BALLA (ADAMA’s sequel from women’s series)

**At the Ndiaye residence**

Balla stared at the destitute plate of food in front of him. He attempted yet again to make a meal for himself. It had been a long three weeks of not speaking to one another. At first, Adama tried to explain herself but eventually gave up as Balla refused to believe her. She was coming to a dead end. Three weeks without a word from him. Three weeks where he didn’t spend the night in their conjugal bed. Three weeks where she prayed endlessly for him to come back to his senses. Three weeks that led up to this moment.

Adama walked down the stairs in jeans and a floral long sleeve top. In one hand was her cell phone. With the other hand, she was dragging a suitcase behind her. Balla immediately stood up.

Balla: Where the hell do you think you’re going?

Adama: Oh, so you can speak? 

Balla: Don’t patronize me. Where are you going with that suitcase? 

Adama: Don’t play stupid. How long has it been since you even looked up at me? And it’s now that you care?

Balla: Don’t be ridiculous. You know what you did.

Adama: I am not even going to stand here and reason with you. My brother is picking me up and taking me to my parents’ house. If you have anything to say, you can come say it there. 

Balla: You’re not leaving this house! We don’t need to involve anyone in our problems!

Adama: Are you kidding me? How are we supposed to resolve any problem with you ignoring me like I don’t exist? There is nothing you can say to keep me here today. Move!

Just as Adama was pushing Balla out of her way, her elder brother, Samba, walked in.

Samba: Move out of her way. Don’t even tempt me.

Balla promptly stepped away and looked in disbelief as Adama strutted out of their house with her brother holding her suitcase.

**At the Diop residence**

Adama: I honestly didn’t want to leave. But I knew I had to in order for Balla to truly know my worth. 

Nabou: Girl, I can’t believe you still wanted anything to do with him. He treated you like shit.

Adama: I know but it’s not that simple. Marriage isn’t something you can just walk in and out of whenever you want to. Even coming back here is humiliating to me. I want to be in my home.

Khady: Please spare us this “marriage is so sacred” speech. Gënoo ñu ko xam ! (we know that too!) But you don’t deserve to be treated like that. Balla dafa fuuy! (Balla is arrogant!)

Adama: Don’t talk about my husband like that!

Nabou: Haha well, excuse us!

Khady: Listen Ada, nobody is telling you to break up your marriage. But you do need to sit back and think about the kind of treatment you are going to accept from him. He went three weeks without talking to you and it wasn’t going to let up anytime soon. Over something so silly. It took you packing your stuff and leaving before he said anything!

Nabou: And he only said something because he knows it would look bad on him if you told your parents the truth. 

Adama: I know, that’s what really worries me too. I don’t want to be in a trap of him emotionally torturing me and then making it seem like I’m the one in the wrong.

**At the Diop residence**

Diop: Adama, tell me why you have come back here. 

Adama: Papa, I am sorry but Balla has changed so much recently. He’s been ignoring me for three weeks now. He refuses to eat my cooking, doesn’t sleep in our room anymore, and won’t speak to me, no matter how hard I tried to get him to.

Diop: What did you do?

Adama: I didn’t do anything! I went to the market one Saturday afternoon to pick up some things for dinner and some stranger asked me for directions. I didn’t even know where he needed to get to and I told him I didn’t know. I come home and Balla accuses me of having a boyfriend, out of nowhere!

Daba: Adama, you know jigéen buy sëy nga, dangay xool fooy teg sa tànk! Looy dox di wax si mbedd mi? [Adama, you know you have to be more careful as a married woman. Who are you talking to in these streets?]

Adama: Mais, man je rêve ou quoi? Xanaa li ma leen wax deggu leen ko? The guy was asking me directions! We’re talking about a stranger! [Am I dreaming or what!? Are you guys not hearing me?]

Diop: Princesse, I know what you’re saying but you know people are left up to their own interpretations. You have to be careful. 

Adama: I am just waiting for the time he can get some flame for his behavior. EVEN IF I knew that guy and the conversation was about more than directions, the least he could do is be mature about the situation.

Daba: Yow sañ nga wax lu dul loolu ak jambur yaw? [You don’t dare!]

Diop chuckled at that satement.

Diop: You know your princesse, she’s always been friendly!

Daba: She needs to nip that in the bud if she wants to stay married!

Adama: Maman, I am not denying anything you guys are saying. But this is just ridiculous.

Diop: I will summon your husband for a conversation.

Adama: Don’t take his side deh.

**At the Ndiaye residence**

Balla received the dreaded phone call from his father-in-law. The days of being angry were over. Now he had to go explain himself or at least show he cared. And he did. He just wanted to punish Adama a little – he never expected this to go this far. What would he say to Diop? In his mind, he truly loved Adama and didn’t want to lose her.

**At the Diop residence**

Balla: Papa, I just want to first apologize for the inconvenience I’ve caused.

Diop: It’s no problem, son. We just want to get to the bottom of it. Tell me what happened?

Balla gulped. He really couldn’t figure out how to explain the story. There wasn’t much substance … nothing to really tell the more he thought about it. Shit, he was about to make a fool in front of his in-law.

Balla: Well, I just want Adama to know that she’s a married woman now. Anyone could see her in these streets and interpret her actions however they want!

Adama couldn’t help but laugh at the evasion of topic Balla decided to go with.

Adama: Please don’t go that route. Man up!

Diop: Ada! Don’t speak to him like that. Let me handle this. Balla, what exactly did she do?

Balla: I saw her standing with a man when she claimed to be going to the market for a short trip. I wasn’t even meant to leave the house but I had to meet up with a friend quickly and saw her while I was out. 

Diop: So she told you she was going to the market?

Balla: Yes.

Diop: Did she have groceries with her when she got back?

Balla: Well, yes.

Balla knew he was way in over his head; he could see where this was going.

Diop: Look, I am not taking my daughter’s side. But I just struggle to understand what led you to conclude that man she was talking to was her anything.

Balla: Uhm…

Diop: It looks to me like there was some miscommunication. You two need to talk it out.

Adama: I don’t have anything to say to him!

Diop: You don’t? Is that why you’ve been moping around here the last few days because you missed your husband?

Adama: No! 

Balla smirked.

Diop: Balla, son. I don’t like these kinds of interactions. It’s a waste of time. You two are adults and things like this shouldn’t have even escaped the four walls of your bedroom. You can’t make assumptions without proof of anything. We’ve talked to Ada to be more careful of her surroundings but honestly, there was nothing to quarrel over. You are the man of the house and should do everything in your power to ensure things like this don’t happen. Both of you, don’t let this happen again.

Adama: Papa, it can’t be that easy! He ignored me for weeks.

Diop: Forgive him. Work it out among yourselves. Get out.

Adama frumpily left the living room and headed straight for her bedroom. Balla followed.

**In Adama’s room**

Adama: I can’t believe you showed up here with an actual story. You thought you were onto something, huh?!

Balla: Don’t be so hostile. I honestly didn’t know what to say to your dad. He’s not the most approachable man.

Adama: Well, I’m not surprised. He and everyone else are the only reason why you cared enough to show up here. I don’t have anything to say to you.

Balla: Ada, I’m sorry. I don’t even know what to say.

Adama: You think that’s it, huh? That you show up here and my dad says what he has to say and that’s it. I go back home with you and we live happily ever after.

Balla: Please don’t make this harder. I recognize what I did was wrong.

Adama: You are so disrespectful. And so selfishly entitled. Me make this harder?

Balla: Don’t say that. Baby, I’m sorry.

Adama: I’m not going home with you. I am not going to be manipulated by you or my parents – not after the shit you pulled. THREE WEEKS BALLA?! Are you really that immature?

Balla: I know, I know! I’m sorry! Please, just give me a chance. My jealousy got the best of me.

Adama: Control your jealousy. You don’t own me, Balla. I am not your property that you need to keep tabs on. 

Balla: I know. And I will work on that. 

Adama: This isn’t over. 

Balla: I know, let’s just talk it over at home.

**In the Ndiaye residence**

Balla and Adama walked back into their home, Balla carrying her suitcase. The tension was still there but they tried to mask it with small conversation. Adama was thinking of all the things she wanted to say about how she wanted to be treated going forward and Balla was just happy to have his wife back home. As they walk in, they notice the living room light was on.

Balla: Hello? Who’s there?

Nogaye: Hey baby, it’s so good to see you! I decided to move myself in, I just couldn’t wait anymore!

Balla dropped the suitcase. He was speechless.

Adama: Who the hell is this?

Nogaye: Oh he didn’t tell you … Hi, I’m Nogaye, Mrs. Ndiaye. Desormais, I have an extra key and I live here.

Nogaye confidently stared Adama down.

Adama: What!?! Balla, who is she?

Balla wasn’t just silent in the three weeks he went without speaking to Adama. He got married, for the second time. Adama now had a co-wife.

[to be continued]

MALICK: BUUR COUTURE

In this interview series, we pick the brain of Buur Couture’s founder, Malick! Before we get into the interview spotlight, read on to learn more about Buur Couture overall!

Overview:

BuuR is an African luxury fashion brand founded in 2014, which produces ready-to-wear clothing and accessories. The word BuuR is originated from Senegal, and it means “Royalty.”

We’ll stop there! You can read more at buurcouture.com and buy some cool merchandise as well! I personally own several pieces and have never been disappointed. High quality and durable!

Now for the fun part! Let’s learn about Malick ❤

Instagram: @buurcouture

MUCH LIKE MANY OF US HERE IN THE STATES, I WAS BORN AND RAISED IN SENEGAL.I MOVED TO THE STATES IN 2009 FOR SCHOOL. I AM CURRENTLY LIVING BETWEEN MIAMI AND HOUSTON (TRAVELING BACK AND FORTH). IN UNIVERSITY, I STUDIED BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION AND ALWAYS HAD AN ENTREPRENEURIAL FLAME BURNING INSIDE OF ME.

I GREW UP WITH FASHION AROUND ME. MY MOM IS A FABRIC VENDOR SO I’VE ALWAYS BEEN INTRIGUED AND INSPIRED IN MANY WAYS – THE TEXTURES, THE FABRICS, ALL OF THAT.

IN 2010, I STARTED A BUSINESS CALLED MIABIZZY. IT HAD A PHILANTHROPIC BACKSTORY TO IT; I WANTED TO HELP THE CHILD BEGGARS (TALIBES) IN SENEGAL THROUGH THE PROFITS FROM THE BUSINESS. I REALIZED THOUGH THAT I NEEDED TO BUILD A BRAND AND REALLY DEVELOP IT IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE WHAT I WANTED IN OTHER NON-PROFIT PROJECTS I WAS WORKING ON. THAT’S HOW BUUR CAME ABOUT. IT’S A BRAND AND A MISSION.

THE MEANING OF BUUR IS A NATURAL BORN LEADER WHO GIVES TO THE PEOPLE WITHOUT EXPECTING ANYTHING IN RETURN. WE ARE ALL BUURS IN OUR OWN RESPECTS. IT’S A UNIVERSAL MEANING.

SOMETHING THAT I LIKE IS THAT OUR NEW GENERATION OF SENEGALESE TALENTS HAVE AN UNDERSTANDING OF ONE ANOTHER THAT PREVIOUS GENERATIONS DON’T HAVE. IT’S A LUXURY THAT WE ARE ABLE TO SUPPORT AND EMPOWER ONE ANOTHER.

I HAVE THIS CURIOSITY AROUND DIVINE KNOWLEDGE. WHAT I MEAN BY THAT IS THAT KNOWLEDGE IS LIMITLESS AND THERE IS ALWAYS MORE TO LEARN. IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A DEGREE OR FORMAL KNOWLEDGE (OR BY THE BOOKS) – YOU CAN LEARN SOMETHING NEW EVERY DAY. I LOVE SURAH AL-KAHF IN THE QU’RAN. THERE IS A PART ABOUT KNOWLEDGE WHERE BASICALLY MOUSSA HAD IT IN HIS MIND THAT HE WAS THE MOST KNOWLEDGEABLE ON EARTH. ALLAH TOLD HIM HE WAS NOT AND GUIDED HIM TO KHIDR SO HE CAN LEARN FROM HIM. IT’S A VERY GOOD STORY TO REFLECT ON – IT SHOWS US ALL HOW MUCH ROOM WE HAVE TO LEARN AND GROW.

ROYALTY IS A GIFT WE ARE BORN WITH; IT’S A BLESSING. WE SHOW OUR APPRECIATION BY LIVING AND BEING THE BEST WE CAN EVERY DAY.

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I personally loved his interview (I love every interview) but I learned so much about Malick’s business, mindset, and life views. It’s humbling to meet such bright minds who want so much better for the world. THANK YOU so much for taking the time with us !!!