Sunday, May 29, 2011

Shake It, Shake It...

Shake it like a Polaroid picture.

Many moons ago when Matt was visiting Senegal he became transfixed with the idea of a Polaroid camera. Ahmed and the children of my neighborhood didn't need educational materials, or shoes, or other necessities...they needed a Polaroid camera. In Matt's defense, kids do LOVE having their pictures taken. And taking pictures here is a production. Small children and screaming and grabbing at you and pushing their way to the front of the group of children so that they are front and center in the picture. Once the picture's been taken it's imperative that everyone seems themselves on the screen of the digital camera and that we rehash the picture. Oh yes, that is you on the side... this happened 1.3 seconds ago. During Matt's trip we did have one particularly memorable photo session when an entire family stopped us on the road and demanded an impromptu photo shoot complete with smiling adults, sobbing children, and stray dogs.

Upon Matt's return to the States, the idea of the Polaroid stuck with him and he got me a Polaroid which traveled across the country to Katherine's boyfriend's office and then with Katherine across the Atlantic and to Senegal. I must say that I've been delinquent in bringing the Polaroid out mostly because Senegal and I haven't been getting along lately and I knew that it would be a hit. I had no idea how much my family would love the camera. To say that it caused a ruckus would be a vast understatement.

Today when the power was out I was trying to do some reading, but Ahmed was having none of it so, I grabbed the Polaroid and the madness ensued. Ahmed was immediately intrigued by a new camera. The boy is a ham. He was shocked when a picture magically came out of the camera, but then infinitely disappointed when there wasn't an image, only a glossy white finish. Invoking the infamous Outkast song, I told him he needed to shake the picture and it would appear. This was all too much. He went insane. As the picture started to appear Ahmed darted inside the house, shaking the picture the entire time, running around showing everyone the magic picture.

Pictures in Senegal are generally reserved for special occasions and snapshots are not the norm. Therefore, people are usually hesitant about having their pictures taken when they aren't dressed to impressed, much less on a Sunday afternoon when everyone looks like a lazy scrub. Ahmed's excitement generated interest and before I knew it there was a line. My mom loved the the camera, process, and resulting picture so much that she made Ahmed go upstairs and take a picture of my host dad to show him how cool the camera was. This is the best picture I have of my mom and myself:

There are a bunch of other pictures, but they've been commandeered. I hope that I can at least take pictures of them because some are really funny since Ahmed was the photographer.

It wasn't just the girls and the little kids who showed interest though. Baye and Petit (Jeenaba's older brother) were adamant about getting their pictures taken. They saw the pictures later in the day and sent Ahmed to my room and to get me and the camera so they could have their own pictures. The whole picture taking experience was pretty funny. Everyone was really in to it. I also like that they thought they looked better in these pictures than regular pictures; I'm pretty sure that's just a case of instant gratification.

After a while I had to put the camera away to conserve film. I definitely want to bring it out at least once when Ahmed has little friends over and show it to Dioss because I think he would really like it. Matt was right! The Polaroid was a huge success. Thank you so much for providing me with such a fun afternoon activity!


  1. Alyssa,

    Its magic, and you are the main ring leader. Very cool.


  2. How fun is that?! Great idea Matt! I love the pic of you with your mom. What a great outfit she has on!