Tuesday, January 12, 2010


My typing ladies turned out to be one lady today. Only Mme. Cissa showed up and it was obvious that our long break did not help her typing skills. She fell off the wagon for a little bit, but I think we’ll get right back on track.

The afternoon was much more eventful back at home. Lunch was actually on time today and I didn’t have any work in the afternoon so I sat around with all the women in my family and they were all riding the gossip train. My older brother Cheikh’s wedding was just last Saturday and Mami was just at another wedding today so everyone was talking about weddings and who's who. First the conversation to some women they know who have had multiple husbands. Taboo. Then we talked about people who are old and don't have husbands. Ugly. Then we talked about who's going to beat who to the alter. Not me (I think all of my sisters are talking solace in the fact that they don't have to worry about me getting hitched before they force their boyfriends or at least a stand-in for their boyfriends down the aisle). Then we talked about the really interesting part of weddings. Money.

My family along with most people here are fairly obsessed about money. I should probably restate that and say Senegalese people are much more about about financial issues than Americans in some ways. Everyone will talk about how much money they don't have or how much something costs or how much money someone makes, but they wont talk to someone in a bank or put their money in a bank. Conversations about money often make me uncomfortable since it's such a taboo subject back home, but this was fairly fascinating. In essence they were blacklisting people who didn't give enough money. As I mentioned in the wedding post, Khady and my mom went around collecting money from all the guests and writing the amounts down while shouting them to the rest of the crowd. This lead me to give Ahmed money and hide in my room while he gave it to my mom. I did not want my amount shouted out to be judged by the entire crowd. Was it a worthy amount from a toubab?

Well, today I learned that it was. After eviscerating several family friends for paltry contributions I was praised as a member of the family and a generous guest. One of my bad-ass aunts who happened to be over and was leading the mean brigade told me that she loved me like a daughter for acting like a real part of the family and that she's going to get me a beautiful outfit when I leave (and after I'm probably forced to contribute a lot more money to a lot more weddings. All of my siblings except one could get married while I'm here! Help!). Regardless, points for me.


  1. Alyssa,

    Come clean, how much did you give? It is interesting that money, no matter how much, is important to almost everyone.


  2. I frankly find this conversation refreshing. I mean the truth is everbody in every culture is obsessed with money your family is upfront about it. Thank god you gave enough $ for the wedding...lesson learned ..there are times in life when it does not pay to be a cheap skate. It sounds like you honored your family. That's what this was about. They have a high profile guest (you) and it is important that you demonstrated your respect and affection for the family and honored their position in the community with your very public gift. Good job Alyssa. It sounds like you handled the whole thing very well.