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From Zimbabwe to Dakar: Africa to Africa: The difference That An Equator makes

Grateful for my Zimbabwean upbringing, and amazed at how Senegal thinks I am good at buying vegetables By Mohammed Thiane In the short journey from my residence to my usual breakfast ‘boutique’, I consider how grateful I am for my Zimbabwean upbringing – open smiles and high-volume conversation have won me a reputation in this reserved Senegalese suburb. Many of my neighbours and acquaintances greet me, enthusiastically. “Americain!” they call me. They mistake my origin by my exaggerated American accent learned through TV and movies, and the many American influences we were exposed to as youth in Zimbabwe. Initially, my apparent connection to a wealthy first-world country cost me dearly. I have now learned that negotiation is commonplace – more so than in Zimbabwe. There, I was confident on how to score the best deals on daily tomatoes and greens. Here, where most of what is worn or consumed is imported, my ‘fake’ accent belies money, and prices were doubled consistently until friends and family educated me, and my use of the local languages met a certain standard. ‘Teraanga’ defines the incredible generosity and open-handedness of the Senegalese people.

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