French, Wolof in Senegal

Asking for Directions

A person giving directions at the door of a home

The Senegalese refer to their country as “The Country of Hospitality.” Hospitality to strangers is way of life. Combined with the fact that the Senegalese live to a large degree“outside,” that is to say, on the bench outside the house or visiting neighbors, there will always be someone nearby to ask for directions. If a Senegalese cannot give directions, or actually take the traveler to the destination, he or she will make sure to find someone who will have the correct answer. Since it is rare that a Senegalese will say “no” to a request for help (it is considered rude), a tourist is never left to flounder.

Dakar is the main city of Senegal, and it is there that most of the tourist attractions, resources and main businesses are located. Although Dakar is somewhat residential, most Senegalese live in other parts of the country. Dakar is built in a symmetrical fashion with most streets clearly marked, yet some streets remain unnamed. As one moves outside of the city into the suburbs, the streets will not be named at all; however, each neighborhood or “quartier” will have a name. The way to find an address is to have the name of the neighborhood and either the family name or professional title of the person sought. One can use the family name of either the man or the woman of the house.

Although there is a tourist information center in Dakar where some maps are available, one must find routes predominantly by asking questions. Since the national road system is simple, it is relatively easy to travel from one destination to another.