Babacare Wade and I sat across from each other at his desk where he works at the Hotel Citronelle. Periodically answering phones in a mature manner or answering the questions demanded by passing guests, “B. Wade”, as he likes to be called, works hard six times a week at providing hospitality and “Teranga” to all.
Beginning with past lessons his family has taught him when growing up, I give the American example of “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” In America, this phrase is used for a number of goals in life pertaining to the person; school, sports, hobbies- and not only success overall within career or money aspirations. B. Wade says that in Senegal they adopt the same mentality early on as children. “Reussir pour l’argent, pour votre maison, et pour votre famille” He explains that when you die the money stays with the family. Even when a person is an adult and not living in the same home as their parents, they try to make as much money to give back and provide for their family because in the past growing up and being raised, they gave you everything- food, clothes, love, and opportunities. B. Wade gave a rare example of how some children who leave their home and family circle altogether due to an argument or disagreement and never come back or go abroad for a better career and life and do not contribute to their family back home in any way, will be in someway, shunned or resented. Many times it is an uncle, aunt, or grandparent that tries to reconcile children and their parents for the good of the family.
Within the Islamic religion, divorce is not difficult however only a man can decide that he wants out of the marriage, not a woman. B. Wade’s mom and dad have been divorced for over ten years now and although he only lives with his dad and his family, he does get to see his Mom a couple times every month. She lives a few hours outside of Dakar with her new husband and family who B. Wade still describe as his brothers and sisters. During our conversation, he received a phone call from his mom. His face lit up incredibly realizing he would be able to see her the upcoming weekend. I asked him if he feels any resentment towards his mother’s new husband and he responded without a pause, “if she loves him, I love him because she is my mom and I love her.”
Without even asking B. Wade, you can understand that values are very important to him and he has acquired them throughout his young life from his parents, family, and day to day aspirations of success. Like other Senegalese people but maybe even more so, B. Wade is working for success in life which he considers, “many riches, children, and a close family.”
B. Wade also states that he doesn’t look behind at the past, he looks only toward the future. He says that too many people in Senegal look at their past and dwell in it an that this can not help them with their future aspirations.
Throughout this interview, B. Wade showed me the importance that he and people in Senegal put toward aspirations for the future; especially concerning success with careers, money, and family. In American society, I also believe we put emphasis on goals but we apply it broadly to everyday life and not only the career aspect. One thing that surprised me to discover was that in Senegalese society and especially within the Islamic religion, it is weird for women to not have a husband if they are in their mid-thirties or forties. They are considered an “old maid” and most likely will not find a husband at that age. However it is not a two way street- men who are 40 and do not have a wife yet aren’t regarded strangely. B. Wade said that many women like older men that can provide for them and that it is important for women to be married younger so they can have time to reproduce and start a family. This is interesting to me because I am a very independent person and have many life aspirations that I can see holding me back from getting married before the time I am at least 30. This cultural difference also makes me aware of the fact that many men have been asking why I am not married yet-not because they are trying to initiate a relationship but because it is curious to them that I do not even have a boyfriend.