The memory of slave island

“Fancy taking the baby for a walk?” I ask Dorothy one sunny warm bank holiday.

“Yes, good idea.” Dorothy is always up for a brisk walk, especially if there is the promise of a glass of champagne somewhere along the way. Unfortunately for us, the café at the local park was closed, and won’t open until evening, despite summertime. Business logic, sometimes. “Did you do anymore research on your trip to Senegal?”

“Yes I have.” I tell her rather pleased. “I was reading up on one of our excursions to the Island of Goree. The island used to serve as assembly point to ship off the slaves from Africa to America, across the Atlantic.”

“Oh my, a whole lot of colonial history gone into that place.” Dorothy acquiesces.

“Yes, not one to be proud of.” I admit. “But just like the story of Anne Frank, this is one to be remembered. It’s a story not only about slave trade, but about humanity. The things we take for granted in our welfare society.”

“A luxury indeed.” Dorothy is deep in her thoughts. “Somehow our freedom is something we undervalue. Or we should be more grateful.”

“True, we’ve come a long way.” I go on. “And just to think, women’s rights, that’s even more recent. Women didn’t have voting rights till the 1950s.”

“I’ve been told the Senegalese are a very beautiful race of people.” Dorothy has been doing her homework too. “Colourful, merry and very likeable. I’m sure your kids will be very impressed.”

“And so they should. They’re going to be exposed to a totally different way of living. Something so different from what they know. I’m hoping it to be an eye opener for them.” I tell Dorothy. “I think they’ll be impressed most by the hospitality and optimism of the local population. Somethings we’ve forgotten too much in our Western civilisation.”

“Not to mention the African music and dancing.” Dorothy muses on. “Quite the opposite to the tight-laced ways of our society. Do you know whether you’ll have the opportunity to mix much with the locals?”

“Apparently, we’re going to visit villages, schools and families in their homes. So we should get quite an authentic impression of what life is really like there.” I tell her what I’ve been told by our travel agents.

“So you’re not going to cancel this trip?” Dorothy looks at me amused.

“Hell no!” I exclaim. “Although I must admit I’m rather reserved about my own emotional reactions when visiting the former slave island of Goree, and the orphanage in Mbour. Those kind of things always get to me, you know.”

“You’re too soft!” Dorothy teases me. “You always get all emotional and teary eyed. And what for? You can’t save the world. You’re not Mother Theresa, you know!”

“I know, I know. It’s just that I find that everything in life is an exchange of energy.” I try to explain. “How can a trip that’s going to be so life-enriching for us, also leave an equally beneficial mark on the people we reach over there?”

“What do you mean, sweetheart?” Dorothy asks.

“Remember the saying: give a man a fish and he will eat one day. Teach a man how to fish and he will eat for the rest of his life.” I start out.

“Yes, that’s an Indian proverb and you’re going to Africa.” Dorothy is still laughing.

“I’ve looked up the orphanage and even asked the travel agents how I can help support charity and empower the local economy.” I tell her to truth. “There are options to donate money, to buy supplies or to sponsor a child monthly.”

“That sounds great!” Dorothy enthusiasms.

“It does a bit, but it’s not exactly what I had in mind.” I mutter. “I don’t like just giving money, because you have no clear indication of where that money will go to, or whose pocket it will end up in. It’s a bit silly for me to fill my cases with old stuff to give away. I could buy it there, thus supporting the local economy and also helping the orphanage. Or I could sponsor a child, but still same option as the first.”

“Well what other options are there?” Dorothy wants to know.

“I don’t know, darling.” I tell her irritated. “But I’m sure it has to do with empowering women. It all boils down to getting the locals to be able to set up a thriving business, and to empower them digitally, so that they can reach a global audience. I do believe that’s the way forward.”

“You’re right darling, it probably is. But maybe people aren’t ready for that. And surely it’s not something you can accomplish in your very short trip over there. Not unless you manage to make a few contacts beforehand.” Dorothy brainstorms with me.

“I’ll have to do some more digging on WordPulse.” I resume. “See who I can reach out to there.”

“Right, and in the meantime, would you please focus your research on something more light and fun, like which wildlife you will see on your safari.” Dorothy urges me. “Do they have elephants in Senegal? I just love elephants.”

“What do you mean, more fun?” I ask her.

“Darling, I love you dearly, but you’re overdoing it for the moment with all your courses and certificates.” Dorothy pauses. “You’re not as fun lately as you normally are.”

I think she’s right. Although I am getting much gratification from a sense of accomplishment, maybe my mind and body do need to take it a little bit easier.

 

What do you think? How do you manage to let go and recharge your batteries? Let me know in the comments below.

 

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