Cultural Differences

August 15, 2018 | Kaylea, Psychologie, Uniterra Sénégal, CNC, Conseillère en Archivage

I’ve reached the halfway point of my journey in Dakar…and I’m still thrilled to be here. We spent our first few weeks exploring the city in our free time, but now we are mainly focusing on the culture Dakar has to offer.

Ramadan is a month long, and we are soon nearing the end of it. During this time, we have distributed bread and coffee to those who are still on the road when it’s time to break the fast, and we have broken the fast a few times with the locals. When it’s time to break the fast (around 7:30pm local time), the locals start off by eating breakfast foods (coffee, dates, bread), then a few hours later, they eat dinner foods. A few locals have told me that during Ramadan, many people eat throughout the night then just sleep in during the day. It’s interesting to live amongst a collectivist culture. The people here are extremely friendly and it seems that there isn’t very much conflict in the city. Two main religions exist in harmony here- Islam and Catholicism. Both religions respect the holidays- as the public gets both catholic and Islamic holidays off of work.

Breaking the fast is often done with immediate family members and sometimes close friends. In this picture to the left, we were invited to break the fast with an entire neighbourhood of people. This was a unique situation because the neighbourhood decided to distribute food to those who were still out during the fast, then everyone ate together. There were about 75 people sitting along these carpets- women on one side, men on the other. The meal consisted of bread, some kind of thick pudding, dates, juice, coffee, water, chicken, fries and cake. The entire neighbourhood came together to cook the food, each family responsible for some task.

We buy all of our fruits and vegetables here from the local vendors who get food delivered to them every morning, then put them on display for people to buy each afternoon/evening. The fruit and vegetables are always very fresh and ripe. Mangoes are probably the most popular and plentiful fruit here, although, bananas are a close second.

I finished my mandate at work, so now I am mostly translating and working on other things people need help with around the office. I’m finding that the work pace is much slower here than in Canada, just based off of what I’ve seen in my own office. People generally take their time completing tasks, taking many breaks to speak with friends and/or family over the phone and chatting with others around the office.

One of my favourite things to do here on the weekend is to go to the various markets. There are tons of fabrics to choose from, and you can easily go to a local tailor who will make whatever you want for a low cost. The markets also include a lot of local art and food. Often, fish are laying on a blanket on the street, waiting to be bought. A local told me that they feel putting the fish on ice changes the taste of it. So, they like to keep the fish fresh.

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