Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Character Study: Mami

Mami is a badass. She is turning twenty-six next week and plays basketball at an academy here in Thies. I'm a little unsure about what her basketball goal is at this stage in her life, but Senegal is a powerhouse in women's basketball. The Senegalese women's team just won the African Cup, which is like the championship for the NBA.

Some fun facts about Mami:
1. She LOVES make-up! LOVES it. She has more make-up than anybody else I've ever met in my life and she's pretty much the local beauty parlor. Today she had a friend over who was going to a wedding and we all watched Mami transform this woman into a different person. When Senegalese women wear make-up to go out, they go ALL OUT. They use foundation that I would use on myself aka a million shades to light for them and then usually pencil in their eyebrows in purple and match their eyeshadow to their outfit. Lip liner could be a completely separate post. Regardless, Mami loves doing make-up and everyone loves her for it. It also turns our house in to a girls club which is really fun.

2. Mami's laugh is a mixture between a hyena and three year old girl. Somehow it's both very little girly and cackling. I'm pretty sure it could also break glass, but you always know when Mami's having a good time and she usually is so it's funny.
3. Mami loves Western style clothes. Mami is the only woman in my family who wears primarily Western clothes. Everyone else usually wears traditional clothing. Therefore, Mami really stands out. Let's just say she likes color and skin tight material. My personal favorite outfit is what I call the Jolly Green Giant. Mami is not what I would call a delicate flower; she's a basketball player and has that body. The Jolly Green Giant outfit consists of lime green skinny jeans (and my skinny I mean ass tight, I'm not sure I could fit in them and I'm 1/3 Mami's size), green stilettos, a green bag, and a green and black striped halter top that reveals her belly button. When this outfit makes a debut I know Mami's going out on the town. She rocks it. The girl has amazing confidence and for some unknown reason she kinda pulls it off.

4. Unlike most Senegalese women who do laundry almost daily so it doesn't pile up, Mami likes to do it all at once. Today she spent a good eight hours doing laundry, she filled up all of our clothes lines three times. The best part of Mami doing her laundry all at once is hearing her complain about all the laundry and then how she doesn't have enough clothes. It's classic.

5. Ahmed and Mami have a love/ hate relationship. They obviously love each other, but they push each other's buttons. Ahmed particularly loves "accidently" spilling some of his lunch over Mami's newest outfit while Mami takes Ahmed's candy to make him cry. These are the entertaining events of my life now...
6. Mami is also the best cook in our family and makes amazing chicken. I think it might be good in the US too. It almost tastes cajun. She also makes great juice and ceebu jenn although she does make my least favorite lunch as well. I'll let it slide.
7. Mami loves to watch Pokemon on TV and the infamous Jesus cartoon.

8. Mami makes the best shocked sounds during Marina.

9. She's really considerate and invites me to sit around with her friends when she has people over and always makes me peel the potatoes when she's cooking.

10. Mami's just a badass. I don't really know how to put it better than that.


  1. Mamy sounds like the kind of woman I love to have as a friend. Here's to Mamy......I just took a big gulp of red wine! Thanks for this profile Alyssa. I never realized a Muslim women, in a Muslim country could be so bad ass! Thanks for giving us a richer, truer picture.

  2. I'm a fan of Mami too - I'd like to request a picture of her in her Jolly green giant outfit next time.

    (also, I support how she lets her laundry build up, everyone cool does it)

    - lindsay