Socialising in Dakar

A quick post here to correct an erroneous impression I have probably given about the difficulties of finding friends in Dakar.

For the first time, I think, since I moved to Senegal, I have been in the country for a continuous period of just over two months. And I made some friends! Or at least, before my travel schedule started again, I began the process of making some friends.

I had time to contact the couple of people I do know and make an effort to spend some time with them. As a result I heard about a new expat group starting up here, and I attended their opening drinks evening. During the evening I exchanged numbers with a few people, and one of those exchanges led to a party invitation. At the party I met three more nice people who asked for my contact details. One of my initial contacts also invited me to a yoga group, and told me about an English language book club, and I attended the September book club meeting (and enjoyed reading the book) and people told me to come along to another one.

And that is how one develops a circle of friends, isn’t it? Step-by-step. Meeting people you feel you might like. Reinforcing that feeling at a second meeting, at which point they start to turn into friends. Socialising with them and through them meeting more people you might like. And so it goes on.

Except that I can’t join the yoga group because they require regular attendance. And the next expat event, when I might have the opportunity to consolidate a couple of those initial exchanges, is in two weeks’ time when I will be at a conference in the UK. For the book club, I now have their schedule right through until next June but when I compared it to my travel schedule, this is what I found:

Meeting date - My whereabouts on that date
11 October - London
8 November - Haiti
13 December - Mali
10 January - Kenya
14 February - Sierra Leone
21 March - Cameroon
11 April - Burkina Faso
9 May - Guinea Bissau
6 June - Senegal!

So finally, for the last meeting of their year, by which time they will all have forgotten me, I will be available to attend for a second time.

So it is not that Dakar is “a difficult place to make friends” as I have told so many people. Nor is it that I have somehow turned into a person that nobody likes. It is all related to the travel schedule that comes with my job. My apologies to the city of Dakar and its inhabitants for misrepresenting them so badly.