Dalal ak jamm (Welcome)

I stopped writing for more than a month. My soul, my spirit and my mind were too tired to let me find some inspiration during the last weeks I spent in Europe. So I just waited. Waited to take my flight from Milan, Italy to Dakar, Senegal.

It was surreal. The last time I went to Senegal, I was seven years old.

'Aéroport Léopold Sédar Senghor' “Do you know who he was?” I asked my brother. “One Senegalese president...” “And a poet.” I added.

“Dalal ak jamm” is what I read inside the airport. When my family and I went out with our luggage I could breathe Senegal. That smell took me back in time to the first time I met Dakar and her people.

I felt like one of the actresses in 'An African City'.
I came all the way from Europe in my wax skirt, matching headwrap and sunglasses. One of the guys who was helping us with the luggage gave me my handbag, talked to me in French asking if I was there for holiday then said 'Welcome'.

We then drove home.
While driving I watched everything. The ocean, the people, the embassies, hotels and universitites, the billboards and in my “woke” state of mind I criticised the use of the French language, French banks, French supermarkets and the commercials for bleaching cream.
But I was also a bit nervous. I couldn't wait to meet my grand-parents so I was revising my Bamana in my head.

To my surprise, the roads and houses that seemed so large and big, shrank in size.

The first person I saw was my grand-mother. I prayed so much that I would find all of them ALIVE. I missed out on so much because of two barriers: the distance between Italy and Senegal and language. In fact, I never really talked to them.

I then met my other gran-mothers (my grand-father had four wives) and when she hugged me and said how happy she was to see me I almost teared up.

It was only the first day but I felt I was being re-born. One of my best friends told me: “The worst mistake you could do is to bring Europe with you.When you get off that plane, you know the heat that comes when they open the door? Let that wind take Europe off of you.”

It happened. I felt new. I felt different. I felt the difference. So many beautiful Black faces like me. The sun was more beautiful, the sky was more blue and even the perfection of the Atlantic ocean made me forget that it had separated the children of Africa.

When I went to bed I was exhausted, but at 5 am I heard some people singing. The following day I asked my mother who it was and she told me that when it's Ramadan, some people volunteer to walk from house to house to wake people up with their music so that they can eat and have no excuse to miss 'suguri' (breakfast). 

I'm trying my best to be a real and worthy African, so I keep asking my mother how to behave and how to do things properly. It's actually everything I did back home, only this time I can't speak Italian.