Elections came and went, and I quickly forgot about my promise to blog amidst the mayhem of pre-event shenanigans involving burning tires in the streets, misfired flare guns, and multiple stone-throwing volleys at the po-po as they beat down the man with their shiny black batons, helmets strapped tightly on and rifles on standby.
All of this watched on television in the comfort of my family’s living room as they tsk-tsked at the screen, of course. Activity was limited to a couple of areas in Dakar, with much more peaceful demonstrations found across the country. Richard Toll was predictably not one of these hotbeds of protest, much less my idyllic little village of Temeye-Thiago. The majority of the population value their jamm highly, in comparison to many of Senegal’s neighbors (Mali’s recent coup comes to mind, along with Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire… you get the point).
Still, the February elections simply served to cull the 14 candidates down to 2. Incumbent President Wade did not manage to secure the 50% vote needed to secure his place for a third term, so the March 24th elections tomorrow will determine the state of peace in Senegal in the coming weeks. I personally hope the world’s oldest running President (85 on paper, but closer to 92 in reality) somehow finds the grace to step down—at least 10 people were killed in the run-up to the February elections. I don’t think anyone in Senegal relishes the idea of anymore violence.
In the meantime, I spoke too soon about my iron stomach. While I admit that, true to my Chinese heritage, I pretty much will eat everything, my culinary dalliance with road-side crème (frozen milk) last week has left me in the throes of Montezuma’s revenge for the first time since I hit Senegal. At a time when vegetable harvesting at the end of the cold season couldn’t be more fruitful, I have learned to intersperse my gardening activity with liberal sprints to the bathroom. I will spare you all the details of my affliction, which at Day 11 still shows no end in sight.
Instead, a final photo of the newest additions to my household compound, an orphaned calf and a brand-new tap, the latter sparing me the agonies of carrying 20 liters water on my head to my house every couple of days.