A Senegalese Meal to Last a Lifetime

January 5, 2011

My Kuntaw Kyud and brother in life Daoud put me in touch with an old Senegalese friend of his named Ibrahima. Ibrahima was kind enough to bring his wife and very young son out to the We The People photo exhibition in the village of Ouakum. They were very happy to meet Shino and I and because we were so busy taking care of the exhibition, invited us for a separate evening to converse. This would be an evening I would never forget (Inshallah).

Ibrahima invited both Shino and I along with our young Senegalese friend Marietou to his home for dinner. He picked us up at the artist village out in N’Gor and drove us to his place in the city section of Dakar. The whole way over he kept saying how he lived in an old building. Once we were inside we saw that this “old building” was also very spacious. The rooms were HUGE! The living room was decorated in a very tasteful way. He had a balcony looking out onto a busy Dakar street. Ibrahima’s walls were adorned with artwork created by his mother who is very talented.

After a brief moment of getting comfortable and asking where does this or that come from we sat down to eat. Following Senegalese culture we ate on the floor. The spread seemed to keep coming from the kitchen to the dining area. We had items like yellow rice with pineapples and vegetables, a big salad with peppers, mangoes, tomatoes etc. These were the first few items brought out. Then there was the pineapples filled with shrimp and a type of sauce that looked divine (I didn’t have any). There was another plate filled on one side with free range (aka regular Senegalese) grilled chicken and the other with beef. Then there was the platter with two huge grilled fish seasoned well.

Then there was the local juices made in their home. We had some Bissap (hibiscus plant boiled and sweetened), Baobab juice which is similar to pina colada, tamarind juice and a ginger juice. It was truly an abundant feast. I was overwhelmed by the amount of food and hospitality given. To have just met this man physically a few days prior and here he was treating my girlfriend and I to a meal fit for royalty. And, everything was delicious!

As we ate we discussed the importance of eating as a family, all at the same time. We talked about Senegalese culture and how many cultural aspects of west Africa in general were stripped from African slaves brought to America. I was close to tears on more than one occasion. I continuously thanked both Ibrahima and his wife for such a special dinner. All he would tell me is “It’s Yours”. In Senegal instead of saying “your welcome” they say “it’s yours”. This is to let you know that what they are giving you was yours anyway, no need to thank the giver. What an amazing concept. I’m still in awe.

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4 Responses to “A Senegalese Meal to Last a Lifetime”

  1. Tina Wong said

    Very touching Dashaun. I found myself close to tears to. Somehow your writing conveyed and resonated wry loudly your gratitude. “it’s yours”! I love that!

  2. dashaunworld said

    Thank you Tina. I’m glad you got something out of this story. And “it’s yours” is the new movement!

  3. Torin said

    Beautiful experience, Brother D.

    Filled my heart, and made my mouth water—I need to make some new movement to Keur Ndeye!
    http://www.yelp.com/biz/keur-ndeye-restaurant-brooklyn

  4. dashaunworld said

    @Torin Now you’ve got me excited! I remember when you had that fish and raved about it. I only had it once from a Dance Africa vending booth but that’s all over now! And I need some ginger juice in my life.

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