The fam in Côte d’Ivoire

I grew up in West Africa in the 80s and 90s, then moved back here in the 00s, and again in the whatever-we-call-this-decade. So my knowledge of West African daily life was acquired from my mom, my former supervisor’s wife, my house-helpers and Senegalese friends. And this knowledge was gathered by living in villages, small towns and the big city.

Please note that I do not in any way claim to be an expert. In fact, that’s exactly the subject of today’s post. I am beginning to suspect that my knowledge is a bit outdated and I could use a little West Africa 2.0 upgrade.

Toubab(ou) from a young age

So tell me, do you do these things? Are they still recommended for life in West Africa?

  • Flaming the bread

When you buy a baguette at the buutik, do you run it over a gas flame to kill the germs before eating it?

  • Skirt up!

Do you put on a wrap skirt to cover your knees before opening the door? I’m guessing this is more of a village thing these days, but that instinct is still there every time I hear a knock at the door.

For those without dryers, do you iron your clothes in order to kill the mango fly eggs? (If you don’t know about these, perhaps it’s best to stay blissfully ignorant.) What about the alternative option of letting the clothes sit for three days before wearing them?

  • The annual de-worming

Do you take a Vermox pill every year to get rid of any worms you may have picked up in the past year’s ceebu jenn?

  • Walk behind your man

Do you walk behind your husband rather than beside him? For us, it depends on the context. In Dakar, we walk side-by-side and even (gasp!) hold hands in some places. But in the village – no way. I fall in step behind him. Still current practice?