They spend much of their time memorizing the Quran. At first, they don’t really understand what they’re saying, but they learn the pronunciation and the learn to sing the verses. They keep practicing until the get it perfect, because they are taught that God’s word is perfection and should not be said imperfectly, either by mixing up the words or mispronouncing them. As time goes on, as they learn Arabic, and as they are taught the doctrine, the children begin to understand what the verses mean.
L’Ile de Gorée is one of the most beautiful places in Senegal. The colorful houses and quaint narrow streets are unbelievably charming. The artisan’s markets are beautiful to browse, and the variety of the handmade art is surprising, given how small the island is. It’s more diverse than most markets in Dakar, at least as far as art and jewelry. In spite of its beauty, Gorée has a dark history. It played a central role in the slave trade out of Africa. At least 100 million slaves passed through Gorée, through the Maison des Esclaves.
All the way through high school French, whenever we talked about French Africa, we talked about Dakar. And every time we read a textbook chapter about Dakar, it was accompanied by a photo of the “Porte du Troisième Millénaire, whose name translates to “door of the third millennium.” It’s safe to say it’s pretty important! Built in 2001, it symbolizes the opening of Africa to a new millennium, and represents hope, communication, and unity. You can find it overlooking the ocean along the Corniche-Ouest, by avenue Malick Sy. The views of the ocean are incredible.
Dakar looks like a movie set. That is, parts of it are built up and decorated elaborately, while other parts are falling apart. There is sand and dust everywhere, which gives the air a sort of orange glow; it’s kind of beautiful when the sun sets. The days are warm at this time in late April, but the ocean breeze (we’re on the Atlantic coast!) keeps everything cool, though humid. My hair has gotten very curly and I love it.