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He Carried the Watermelon - A Senegalese Story

Blog Article: He Carried the Watermelon – A Senegalese Story

Senegalese Story about a Watermelon

Once upon a time there were three Senegalese youngsters, two toubabs*, one watermelon… and a thief. It was a hot Saturday afternoon in the little town of Joal where two toubabs were on a mission. A mission to acquire a watermelon for their friend’s new-born baby. Aided by their Wolof-speaking neighbour and two sassy Senegalese siblings, they all set off to the market. Upon arrival, they were troubled to discover that watermelons were no longer in season and therefore had shot up in price. [One watermelon for £1.50 what a rip off!!] But it doesn’t stop there…  

Little Ablaye (le petit vieux) had the physical and mental burden of keeping the watermelon safe… then disaster struck [uh oh]. Along came a swaggering, cyan-clothed thief with a strong desire for a watermelon. Out of Ablaye’s hands it was plucked and so the chase began. Through the bustling garage, out the other side and onto a donkey and cart the watermelon was taken. The two toubabs stood there dumbfounded as the youngsters shot off after the watermelon and its thief in a flurry of rage. Once the initial shock wore off and they came to their senses, the toubabs followed in haste, realising this was not a joke. Down the main road the watermelon trundled, with the mismatched group in tow. Hindered by the infamous blue trousers, one of the toubabs landed face first in the dirt, much to the delight of the onlookers [Toubabs provide entertainment rek* in Senegal]. Not to be deterred by this hurdle, the famous five continued on their quest to claim back their watermelon. On this memorable day, the toubabs learnt a lot of Wolof insults.  

At long last, the famous five could breath a sigh of relief as they viewed the donkey and cart coming to a halt [alhamdulillah]. The watermelon was returned to its rightful owners and the thief ran off into the distance, never to be seen again or so we thought… [jokes, he plays football at the end of our street every night! His famous statement has become “ana hal bi?”*]. The toubabs were later informed they were spotted pursuing the watermelon at pace from the end of their street. Eventually the traumatised watermelon was gifted to the new-born’s mother and everyone lived happily ever after. Well, nearly everyone, excluding a specific youngster who still to this day has a chant for the thief where she exposes him: “the watermelon thief has arrived, everybody leave!” 

*toubabs = white people in Senegal *rek = only  *ana hal bi?

*ana hal bi?= where’s the watermelon? *alhamdulilah = thanks be to God 

All storytelling aside, this has become a very amusing memory for us and we still regularly chuckle about it. It was also another lesson on the importance of humility and renewed our appreciation for our families here in Senegal. We wouldn’t have got the watermelon back without them! Since being here, we have learnt that it’s not possible to get too hung up about being embarrassed. If you want something (aka watermelon!!) you just have to go for it and not worry about judgement. In fact, whenever we see the “thief” we’re able to have a giggle with him about the whole situation as you just can’t hold a grudge here – everyone is family in Senegal!  

The End 

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