It’s early September 2015 in Senegal. We are about three quarters of the way through the rainy season. This has been one of those years that gives the impression of having passed by in overdrive. Suddenly January turned to May while I was still getting used to writing 2015 on my checks. Five days ago, September 1, marked my fifty years in Senegal.
The years too have passed quickly. When I decided to write, the short stories in this book came quickly as well, like ripe mangos falling from the tree. They are accounts of real people and real events with some changes in names and details, as well as fictional stories with invented characters that are inspired by a composite of real events.
With its roots in the 12th century, and located on a cross-roads where different world cultures have met and mixed, Senegal has had the time to develop intricate mechanisms to manage diversity and bind people together in non-conflictual relationships. While its architectural achievements are modest on the world scale, its social architecture has the beauty of the Taj Mahal in its balance and perfection. These social mechanisms are reflected in the predominant cultural values of this old society. In this collection, I share acquired insights from people and incidents that contributed to my growing respect for these values and the wisdom of this millennial culture. These stories and memoirs somehow encapsulate some of the values upon which this culture is constructed. They are a treasure of lessons from Senegal about what is important in life for anyone interested in learning to see.