Life in the Ghetto

So many things fill my days that one would think living here to be stressful.
No. One thing that I have noticed here is that life is easy and simple. Maybe people who have less, know the truth about life.
It is here that people take things day by day, the dust never hinders anybody, people trudge through it and when the sun goes down they dance until midnight as if they did not have to wake up at 6 in the morning the next day.
By turning a blind eye, by ignoring difficult truths, life is easier… and so much more relaxing. What does it matter if you are late by an hour, or even two?

To be honest, it is true that people are poor here… Somehow however, it is when I am in the ghetto that I feel most alive. The rich suburb of Hann-Maristes for example, is dead. It is a suburb that rhymes with monotony while Thiaroye on the other hand, is so much more… human.

Economic richness removes our sense of community, our sense of belonging to society. Western capitalism has strongly influenced Senegalese culture in that way. The ghetto however, still remains more traditional because of its low economic richness.
Many people seem to think that poverty and misery are strongly linked together. It is true that people here go through daily hardships to earn their daily living, but…
Living in the ghetto also means that you live in a community. Everybody knows everybody: directly or indirectly (through gossip for example). This also means that if you need money you can ask a lot of people- sharing is so ingrained in Senegalese ghetto culture because people have so little. If one child has a lolly, he/she will share it with all their friends. When one of their friends has an orange, he/she will also share it with everybody. This is the same for adults of course.

“Do you like your job?”
“Of course I like my job. That’s how I earn my money.”


One thought on “Life in the Ghetto

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  1. finding a balance

    Ah, the eternal question of living freed of every heavy possession in order to be happy!

    I indeed think that the search for more in a material sense not only doesn’t conduct to contentment, but that it makes one feel disoriented, miserable and unsatisfied. I live a very fortunate live, but sometimes I I dream of a simpler life, where money wouldn’t play such a bif role.

    However, I am also convinced that one needs a minimum of financial comfort in order to be serene. Not knowing if one will be able to feed his family on a day to day basis must be unsettling. Living in a violent or threatening environment must challenge one’s peace of mind.

    As always, finding the right balance is important.

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