This last weekend, the Senegalese Association of Oregon and Southwest Washington held their annual celebration of Senegal's status as an independent nation. The festivities occurred at the Senior Center in Portland's Hollywood District on Saturday night.
|Senegalese ladies in their finery|
(Ginger juice is a very spicy concoction of ginger, mint, pineapple, and other ingredients. The first time I tried it, I made the mistake of taking a huge gulp. I lost my respiratory abilities for several seconds. Did I mention ginger juice is very spicy?)
Here's a little sample of their high-energy performance.
The food at the banquet was, as usual, fantastic. In particular, the mafé (African peanut sauce), was outstanding. My friend Dave Hauth, who's become a fan of West African food, commented on how lucky I am to have a Senegalese wife who cooks me up these dishes regularly.
|Crowded dance floor|
And there were lots of North Americans. Many of the Senegalese people have American spouses, of course. But in addition, they invited coworkers and associates. One of the objectives of the association is, as President Adama Goujaby put it, "to import Senegalese culture," and this party serves that objective well.
One aspect of this party that I find enjoyable is listening to the music of the various languages spoken at the event. You'll hear English, of course, and French. But also, you're likely to hear Wolof, Mòoré, and other African languages. My Wolof vocabulary consists of less than a dozen words, but I've developed enough of an ear for it that I can at least distinguish it from other African languages.
Na nga def (articulated as "NON gah dev") translates to "How do you do?" That, friends, is the extent of my command of Wolof phraseology.
|Maty and I with Maman Goujaby, plain tuckered out|
I've been affiliated with this community every since I had the extreme good fortune of finding my wife. It is good for the heart to be part of a community that is thriving, that is maintaining its identity even as it integrates and adapts to the life and customs of the Pacific Northwest.
Party on, Senegalese folks!