Miname is a fishing village comprised largely of two families: the Beyes and the Ndiayes. Oh, and several years back a couple toubabs (white people) joined the club.
Jana and I moved there in 2003 and I lived there for about a year and a half. We were there when babies were born, Senegalese holidays were celebrated (and their goats slaughtered), malaria season came and went, Christmas under the dust and heat, the funeral for a friend’s mother, and many, many bowls of rice and cups of attaya (tea).
But it’s been six years since I left Miname. I really had no idea what to expect – and my big fear was that they either wouldn’t remember me or it would be all like, ‘Oh, it’s you,’ and then return to washing dishes or mending fishing nets.
We arrived in Miname at about 9am after having walked the three kilometers from the highway. First stop: the buutik (Senegalese version of a convenience store) to buy a 25 kilo-bag of rice for the chief to share with the families in Miname. (Can you imagine ever using 50 lbs of rice in the US? Trust me – in Senegal it gets eaten a lot faster!)
So here we are walking over to the chief’s house with our bag of rice being carried by a friend of the buutik owner. Kids are staring. Adults are staring. Goats are staring.
I’m not sure if I saw Awa first or if she saw me, but in any case – we both recognized each other and she pulled her right hand waaay back and up to shoulder level before bringing it in to slap mine in a very happy, very Senegalese handshake – the kind where they don’t let go, but just clasp your hand in theirs as they as where you’ve been, how your family is doing, are you at peace, how is your mother, is this your husband, is your body at peace, is your father well, where are your children… (Yeah, that last one is fun to try to explain in a culture where kids flow after marriage like honey on a hot day.)
As the three of us walked closer to the chief’s house, Awa bellowed out to every person we passed, “This is Khady… you remember Khady… Khady is here! and she brought her husband…” So by the time we shook the sand from our sandals and stepped into chief Moussa Ndiaye’s compound, people had heard the buzz that something was happening in Miname on this bright blue morning.