Some thoughts about Dakar...

We are both Republican states with Muslim majority, we both have about 12 million inhabitants, and almost the same number of inhabitants in our capitals "Tunis & Dakar", about 2.30 million people.
We "Tunisia & Senegal" were French colonies and got independence almost in the same period; 1956 for Tunisia and 1960 for Senegal. Accordingly, we can communicate in French.

I spent my second day of Ramadan in Dakar and the atmosphere has reminded me of Tunisia; very slow movement during the day and very alive city at night. The voice of the calling for the prayer everywhere-since mosques are almost in every neighborhood- the reciting of the Quran, the greeting "Salam alikom" and the smell of the food were very familiar.

Besides, the funniest thing that Tunis and Dakar have in common is an avenue called "Habib Bourguiba".
Habib Bourguiba was the first president of the Republic of Tunisia right following the independence. Bourguiba's avenue has become a legendary street since Tunisia's revolution where most of the protests have taken place. 

Well it doesn't look like our  avenue but the symbolism behind naming it Bourguiba is stronger than any fancy street. 

Bourguiba is very appreciated by the Senegalese. He has visited Dakar in 1965 and was overwhelmingly welcomed. He promoted the cooperation with Léopold Sédar Senghor and called for "a united and independent Africa". L'Université Dakar Bourguiba (UDB) was then the first Senegalese private school.

Bourguiba's  avenue, Dakar         

Actually, I've never thought that we are that similar to a western African country. In Tunisia, we tend to compare ourselves to the European countries as we are the balcony to the Mediterranean, have a European lifestyle, European food and a rich Tunisian dialect as a mixture of Arabic and French. However, it seems that we also have a lot to share with Western Africa.

My journey in Dakar continues...

Visiting the African Renaissance Monument has opened my eyes to what African leaders main interests are. The status cost is about $27 million. It was built by a company from North Korea than imported to Dakar. My friend Moussa has expressed his discontentment of such expenses for the status when they still need better infrastructure. Actually people have even demonstrated on the streets about it. I also want to express my discontenment; doesn't Senegal or Africa have any eager builders with lower costs, instead of importing from North Korea?

 On the first floor, a long poster was on the wall with key  dates. Special dates marked in yellow have captured my  attention. It is saying that from "1959-1990: the  independence of African countries. The first is Ghana  under the Pan Africanist direction of Kwame Nkrumah .  The last is Namibia ". My first observation that I addressed to my friend Moussa, when seeing this post, was : "Tunisia had its independence in 1956! isn't concerned as African country? again?!"
I then asked the guide about it. She said that this poster has been made in Brazil so they might be mistaken some dates. Why shall we bring posters from Brazil? who knows Africa's history more than we do? who can make an amazing poster than we can do? or are we used to import everything... even words!!!

Actually my big surprise was when I checked the independence of African countries on the net and found out that actually Liberia was the first in 1847 and Eritrea was the last in 1993, without considering South Sudan as the monument was built in 2010.

I have a final word about this monument to dear Abdoulaye Wade . I think you should have put more attention and care to the content, information and symbolism of this monument than the money spent to amaze foreigners and make this statue the tallest statue in Africa or bigger than the Status of Liberty.

Let's talk about simple ordinary people rather than heads of states...

When I first went to Kenya, many people told me that it is dangerous and insecure. Same, when I was going to Senegal, people tend to give me this picture of insecurity. During my first day in Dakar when I have just arrived at 4am, I walked with two guys, whom I've never met, but who offered me the company to the hotel. We talked about many things and they didn't accept a penny for helping me finding the hotel. It wasn't because I am brave -as they said- to walk by myself at 4am in Dakar but it was because I am not scared of dark-skinned Africans as they may behave like Tunisians on 4am at Tunis.

Well, my last day in Dakar was an unforgettable day with the Senegalese gentleman Moussa Balde, (I mentioned before) who spent the whole day showing me around though it was Ramadan... it was raining... and he already had a lot of work to do.
For this particular person, to whom I have a lot of respect, I say thank you for your generosity and hospitality. I am so much looking for your visit to Tunisia to show you around and invite you for couscous .

Dear readers, my point is that good and bad people exist everywhere... that helpful and opportunist people are everywhere... You can get stolen in Paris and never be mistreated in Dakar. You can be harassed in Washington DC and never be annoyed in Nairobi. It has nothing to do with the person's name if it is Mohamed to be a terrorist or the color of one's skin to be scary and criminal.

I hope you'll have the chance to visit this country and learn as much as I did.


Thanks Aya for sharing these beautiful words about the true nature of African Countries and taking into consideration the friendly nature and generosities of dark skin Africans. I highly appreciate it.
As a dark skin African from Liberia, West Africa. I have come across the question of insecurity of African Countries and I have always told them it is not what you actually hear or think, we Africans are more than just what you think or hear about us and I have always encouraged them to take the bull by the horn. On July 26,1847 Liberia declare her independent from the America Colonization Society with fear of encroachment on her territories and the insecurity imposed by Great Britain and France making her the first Independent country in Africa. What sock me most is the importation of Africans history from Brazil, what's happening to our continent, are we losing our cultural heritage and histories? Is very sadden to know and I'm totally discouraged about the importation of our history. Liberia fought for the independent of Africa it is where many great African Heroes stop and came for refuge including Nelson Mandela, he hold a Liberian passport before and was given financial support by our former president William V.S. Tubman as an initial start for freedom. Liberia give Israel her independent in 1948 at the United Nations. We have made great history including, the First African world best player in soccer-George Weah, first female head of state in Africa- Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and two Noble Peace Prize winners, who happens to be females and etc. We are striving for greatness and excellence on the African Continent.
Aya.Chebbi said…
Totally agree my friend, this is why we should share our experiences to those who have never visited an African country but have been mostly manipulated by the TV screen or the news pictures of crimes and wars in Africa!!!!
It is our duty to be the ambassadors not only of our countries but our beloved great continent full of history and richness!
Anonymous said…
I had a friend, Keisha, she's visit Tunisia in 2011 and after 3 nights spend it in Tunis was kidnapped and ripped by 3 men before to be killed.
Tunisia was a small part of her circuit vacation planned around of this damn world...After visit of 12 countries she died at 27 years..
All Islamic countries are 1000 years back of civilization, your reality is so different..
Aya.Chebbi said…
Sorry " Ananymous", I have a friend,Emna, who has been raped, stolen and mistreated during her trip to Paris!
You're friend's death could have happened in Tunisia as in Denmark, Japan or Canada...

Do you mean by 1000 years back of civilization, that we are a backward culture? please find the time to read this
Aya.Chebbi said…
also I wondering, How could you know that those who killed her are Muslims, we have Jews and Christians and Atheists born and lived in Tunis!!!


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