Monday, January 24, 2011


Yesterday was Magal, the pilgrimage to Touba (a city east of Thies) I've been alluding to. Magal is a holy time for the Mouride sect of Muslims in Senegal and throughout the world. You are learn more about the Magal and Mouride Muslims on wikipedia:,_Senegal Magal does not have a huge impact of my life because my family is a member of the other sect called Tijian and will have their holy pilgrimage/ festival in a month or so. So what did my family do for Magal? We fielded what seemed like endless phone calls of people calling us from Touba to tell us how great it was, we talked about other people going to Touba, and eating chicken.

The other big activity was talking about a commercial that was being played on the Senegalese stations for Magal. It's a commercial depicting the dangers of reckless driving when one is excited to get to Touba and participate in the Magal. My family loves the commercial because it shows car crashes with dramatic music. I love the commercial because it's so obviously not in Senegal. There are nice cars, roads that have curves (the road to Touba is literally straight), these roads also have barriers for cliffs (?), and my favorite part is that white people are driving the cars. The commercial is probably every other commercial and my family loves it every single time. Ahmed and I have even been recreating the crashes.

Work has pretty much ceased because so many people are in Touba for the Magal and it's hard to use public transportation since it's all been rented for the pilgrimage. This means that Thies is a wonderful place. It's empty and I almost walked the streets in peace today. Although my mom was horrified to here that I was working today (not even my dad was going to the office!), I had to go see Madame Ly because we had a ton to discuss. Tomorrow I'm helping a woman who works for an NGO meet up with Madame Ly and Dioss to see if she wants to make some big purchases for an auction she's holding back in the States as a fundraiser for her NGO. The logistics on this meet and greet are fairly ridiculous, but I think it's going to be a really good connection and I'm excited to see what she thinks of Madame Ly's new designs. Since the Expo Madame Ly has been a jewelry making machine since she has so much cash and the product is definitely getting a lot better. I posted more pictures of new material in the "Softball Season" album.

The second piece of news that I needed to discuss with Madame Ly was about the first Artisan Association activity since the Expo. Peace Corps Senegal is hosting a two week training for Peace Corps trainers from across Africa in Dakar and we are going to try and hold a mini-Expo. All of the artisans who are interested in participating have to get their goods to Thies or Dakar by February 1st and then Madame Ly will do all the selling at the conference in Dakar. It's going to be a huge test to see if the artisans trust each other, their volunteer's and Madame Ly in particular. It's not going to bring in nearly the revenues that the Artisan Expo did, but it will be interesting to see if the artisans see the value in working together to bring in even a little bit of income. Madame Ly and I had a big talk about how much work this will be for her, but she seems to be excited and all for it. She likes it when I call her Madame President and she sees the value in the association and is going to work hard for it. We'll see where all of this goes...

Check out the pictures and leave suggestions on what you think would be attractive the the American market. She can change out colors and loves hearing ideas for new or tweaked designs. I will bring home your custom creation this summer in return for a date with you that involves some type of dairy product or Asian food!


  1. The mini epo is very exciting. I am glad you get to do a walk through with Madame Ly. This should prepare her for the big expo next Dec.

  2. Alyssa,

    Wow, she is really going to town on the jewelry. It will be very interesting to see the social dynamics of the artisans selling through Madame Ly and not being at the final sale. Make sure to lower expectations and then exceed them.


  3. Looking through Madame Ly's jewelry has been a great distraction in the lib - her stuff is so cute! Items I could imagine in anthropology haha: picture 462, 465, 468 478, 497.

    I loooove 465 - she should make it lots of colors!

    Good luck with the mini expo!