I haven’t met men like Senegalese men before. Honestly. If I had to dish out a reward to the boldest African men, I’d have to give it to Senegalese men. A friend of mine says it’s the French connection. The best pick up lines in the world, I’ve heard only in Senegal and as corny as they are half the time, I think they work: I’ve known quite a few people who came to study abroad or work on a project in Senegal and get hitched within a couple of years to a Senegalese man. (Same could probably be said for Senegalese women, but I wouldn’t know!)
When I arrived in Senegal a year ago, I was thrilled to find out that I lived five minutes away from the sea. After writing each day, I’d pick up a book, a mat and my large sunglasses and head for the beach. I never got any reading done on the beach!
It was filled mainly with tourists, local women trying to sell groundnuts, sarongs and beads to the tourists and dark chocolate, bare-chested men running up and doing push ups in the sand. Half the time, hardly had I finished laying out my mat when would I be accosted in Wolof with some question or the other by one of these dark chocolate types. I’d open my eyes widely and tell them in French, I didn’t speak Wolof. That never stopped any one:
“Where are you from?”
“I want to go to Ghana. Essien!”
“Yes, yes.” Me thinking, ok, now let me read in peace.
“You live in Popenguine?”
“Up there. Somewhere on the hill.”
“Oh. Ok. You know, Ghana has nice women. Frankly speaking you please me a lot. Can we go out?”
Whoa! You just met me! I got all sorts of love messages on the beach. Some were direct and said, “I love you,” two minutes into our conversation. In French, love and like are one and the same thing, which could also explain all this confusion. “Je t’aime.”
I thought these pick-up lines or love confessions were happening only because I lived in a village. Since I’ve been in Dakar, the story has been no different. Taxi drivers, my fruit seller, oh, you name it.
In my first week in Dakar a friend and I went out to a club called Nirvana, for an after party after Dakar Fashion week, in which we’d spent half the time ogling the beauties that Senegalese men can be.
So here we were in this club, dancing away every cent of our 10,000 FCFA (about 20 dollars) entry-fee. But these two men kept trying to dance with us, and were cramping our style.
Fast forward to two-three hours later. They managed to corner us. One guy was speaking to my friend and telling her that he’d never felt “that way” about anyone, but frankly speaking, my friend “pleased” him. His friend was speaking to me in Wolof, so my friend had to translate, while she herself was being hit on by his friend who was using the exact same lines. Insane, I know! My guy was also saying how this was the first time he’d ever felt “that way” about anyone, and how God had written it in the stars for us to be together. A riot!
And just this weekend, in the market there was the guy who sold me fish, who wanted to see me again. As I wrote down his number (because it would be mistake to give your number out! I learned the hard way), I asked him what his name was.