SENEGALESE SAY…TERANGA..TO THE OBAMAS
Teranga means “Welcome” in Wolof, the predominant language. And the people living on this Westernmost bulge of the African continent truly are some of the most hospitable people you’ll ever know. Climactically, however, Senegal is the Western Hemisphere’s house of horrors, as many of our hurricanes are birthed off Senegal’s coast when hot dry Sahara and Sahel winds meet southerly cold North Atlantic winds plus moisture from the warm Atlantic Ocean currents, The ITCZ clash zone known as The Doldrums , to form the building blocks of storms
Yet nothing takes one’s breath away more than standing on the craggy Senegalese coast in the evening and seeing the copper-gold sunset over the rambunctious Atlantic ocean. No wonder Senegal’s world famous poet and first post-colonial President, Leopold Senghor, called this land his “Childhood Kingdom” whose heartbeat is the Tam Tam (talking drum).
Senghor’s eyes, though were mesmerized by the beauty of Senegalese women. His famously erotic poem, Black Woman, published in his 1948 Anthologie de la nouvelle poésie nègre et malgache , became a historical landmark for placing the African woman on a pedestal as a worthy model of beauty, thus challenging the centuries-old denigration of black women as antithesis of ideal white femininity.
“Naked woman, black woman
Dressed in your color that is life, in your form that is beauty!
I grew up in your shadow. The softness of your hands
Shielded my eyes, and now at the height of Summer and Noon,
From the crest of a charred hilltop I discover you, Promised Land
And your beauty strikes my heart like an eagle’s lightning flash.
Naked woman, dark woman
Oil no breeze can ripple, oil soothing the thighs
Of athletes and the thighs of the princes of Mali
Gazelle with celestial limbs, pearls are stars
Upon the night of your skin. delight of the mind’s riddles,
The reflections of red gold from your shimmering skin
In the shade of your hair, my despair
Lightens in the close suns of your eyes.”