Togetherness

I cross the border. Senegalese taximen call out at me. I have 5 dalasi and no CFA Francs. There’s no cash machine. An enterprising motorcycle taximan agrees to take me to Kaolack. I spend two hours on the back of his motorbike.

Two cash points fail at Kaolack. The third succeeds. My driver continues to the gare routière. Every time we ask for directions from locals they tell us to go straight on. We hear this so many times that we laugh hard together. I give him my number for the journey home.

I find a battered seven-seater car not far off ready to leave. I pay the driver. There’s a strong smell of diesel. It sticks to the dusty air. As night blankets land, thick fuel dust settles on my skin.

Two weeks later my moto-taximan leaves Karang at 5am to get me from Yayem. I step out in my t-shirt and shorts. I shake his gloved hand and survey his coated body – only his face is visible under his winter clothes.

I invite him in but he declines. I give him the remaining bread from my breakfast.

As everywhere in Africa – and perhaps the world – football cements brotherhood. I don’t much like football. But I am nostalgic for my home town, Manchester. And they’ve beaten Paris.

At the petrol station at Kaolack I buy us drinks and we take selfies. He shows me pictures of his family and children.

At Karang he takes me to his house and shares his meal of rice and fish with me.

At the border I feel like I’m saying goodbye to a friend I’ve known for some time.

As he says, <<on est ensemble>> [we are together].

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