Article by CULP Cadet. Edited by Hope Nelson.
SENEGAL, Africa — If one were to spend any amount of time in Senegal, there would be a number of things that would be immediately apparent. You could see that Senegal does not have many of the same infrastructures and institutions that the United States (U.S.) possesses.
You could see poverty on a greater scale than nearly anywhere in the U.S. But you could also see a land of unrequited beauty. Senegal is truly a wonder to behold. From its natural beauty to its constructed wonders and it’s amazing citizens. Senegal actively combats the stereotype of the “dark continent.”
Senegal’s countryside holds some of the most beautiful landscapes imaginable. Far removed from any civilization, great plains stretch out as far as the eye can see. Rising above these plains are the mighty baobab, the Senegalese succulent that is a staple of African diet, medicine, and folklore. Few plants are as awe-inspiring as this behemoth.
Leaving the countryside, you can view the coastline dotted with volcanic rock formations such as Ile de Madeleine, one of the smallest national parks in the world. This island itself, a magnificent work of volcanic art, is home to a rare collection of birds and fish. The birds and fish are protected on the island from packers who would profit off their beauty and rarity. Other natural preserves, such as the Bandia Reserve, serve a similar purpose. Housing animals ranging from hippos to giraffes to warthogs, these preserves allow people to witness this natural beauty without destroying it.
Moving from natural to constructed beauty, you can see beauty in a large number of places. Though many buildings in Senegal are crumbling due to a lack of infrastructure, there are many that hold a refined beauty, specifically in religious institutions. Mosques and cathedrals, communal places of worship, dot the country with awe-provoking architecture. Each is different and showcases the beautiful visions of their creators.
Another beautiful structure is the African Renaissance Monument. Though somewhat controversial, this 49 meter tall monument is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.
Perhaps most beautiful of all are the Senegalese people themselves. Despite hardships and evils such as slavery, colonization, and exploitation, the Senegalese people still managed to retain their dignity, their tradition, and their love for one another.
They created beautiful works of art, celebrating their traditions and culture. They interact with each other in such a way that shows not just individual love and respect, but a love and respect that stretches back for hundreds of years. Of all the beauty in Senegal, the beauty of its people is perhaps the most beautiful of all.
Senegal is by no means perfect. It struggles in many ways and is flawed in many aspect. But then again, so are all other countries. None are perfect. But each has an inherent value, a beauty that is unique to each individual country. Senegal is no exception.
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