This time of year, when you take a walk in the streets of Dakar—the capital city of Senegal, that is 92%-95% Muslim in one of the hottest parts of the world, you stumble upon decorated snowmen, Christmas trees with cotton snowballs, traditional masks covered in Christmas lights. It lifts your spirits and gives you hope the end of the world might not be as near as it seems.
The other day I told someone here I love the religious tolerance in Senegal. They told me it’s not “religious tolerance” but “solidarity.” I love that.
I’ve always been uncomfortable with the term “tolerance.” Something about it inherently means there is something wrong about the other—that it has to be “tolerated.” It’s like how you have to tolerate your kleptomaniac friend or your hypochondriac relative. The word ‘tolerance’ gives us the feeling that we are somehow more superior in some way, but graceful enough to not detest our object of tolerance—even though we feel we have every right to.
Teranga—that’s the cornerstone of Senegalese society. Senegalese people are known to be extremely warm and welcoming to each other and to strangers. It is something they highly value as a society. In addition to that, they respect other people’s cultures and way of life even if it’s contrary to theirs. In the streets of Dakar, you will see women in small shorts or mini-skirts alongside other women in Hijab. No one will bat an eyelid. Your way of life will be respected and in turn you should also respect their way of life.
Full article available here on Quartz.