Gomis, the toobab ndiago en

96° in the shade. The nights and the mornings remain cool, but day-by-day the heat is gaining ground. At around 2 o’clock pm, the sun is weighing down the town. All donkeys, dogs, goats, cats and cows are sitting under some shelter, panting for breath. People walk slowly, the best way to avoid over perspiration. Cars are rare, music is low, even children play more silently.

I very much like this moment, to go down, cross the Gao place and a couple of the streets of Boucotte until Binta’s restaurant. She’s a plump generous mama, the mother of all her numerous guests, she knows everybody’s name, mine included. She sells good and cheap Senegalese dishes and offers her hearty and tender smile. The meals are quiet; the rumors of the much elevated TV set unifies the small room. Slow motion. Time is floating by.

But in the early morning, you can still see people with anoraks, walking barefoot in flip-flops. A contrastive and almost absurd vision, below 70° they‘re freezing down here. I have begun to walk a bit more in town. It’s a small place here, I’m not so new any more, and it’s starting to be very enjoyable. Of course, there are still some areas where some children call out to me: “hey, toobab!” “Hey, whitey!” And of course, it’s not amusing when you come from an occidental country, where long years of uneasiness and embarrassment have tabooed these evocations, but it always comes from children who ignore this mess. White people are not so frequent down here, and when one is seen in the street it’s like he has just popped out of the TV screen. I don’t care to be seen as a black man by somebody and to be called whitey by some others, I’m neither black nor white, I’m both, and I’d be Asian, Arabian, or whatever as well, if life would be long enough… “Yeah! What’s the matter?” Silence… One little boy overcoming his apprehensions, without saying a word is crossing the sandy lane reaching out his hand to shake mine, imitated soon by his pals. Just to touch, touché!


Back in my neighborhood, I know now some faces, names and first names. People are still very careful about privacy, and they put their honor not to be distracted by my come and go, which I very much appreciate. The contacts are much warmer than in Dakar, people are welcoming and considerate as well. “My name is Patrice Gomis”. “Ah! Ok! you’re a Ndiago! (name of the Manjakos in Wolof). My name here is acting like a key, or rather a bridge for them, besides, everybody in the neighborhood seems to have forgotten my first name: “Hey Gomis! How you doing?” “Just peace, Gomis!” “Jam rek!” Just peace, days come and go, I’m still, in one of the best place to wait, to rest, and learn.

Internet makes you feel at home anywhere, I can see and talk to my children, Gaspard and Alsène, and to Constance their mother very often. It’s not just phone calls, we exchange, photos, videos, music, we laugh a lot, and It’s so easy that Constance can even call me to scold one of them, so far away so close. Furthermore, Internet provides a huge library, a fantastic and gigantic tree of knowledge with all its dangerous fruits. It can bring you up to the sky around planet earth, and within the red little house I’ve reached the outer space many times.


I’ve talked to Pascal lately, goods are being sold little by little, money is slowly coming. Good! No hurry! I accept the stage; I’m checking tempos through listening to flows, under the weigh of the sun. “Stay still, keep your mouth shut! Don’t ever forget you’re a stranger,” the I Ching said. Here I’m not brown, I’m red, like the little house. I’m a toobab Ndiago.

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