I travelled with work (IISD) to Dakar, Senegal, to attend a meeting in the West Africa Internet Governance Forum (I think I’ll write more about that later). I was there for seven days and eight nights, and I also had some time for sightseeing.

Dakar is a bustling place, teeming with people, not rich but not gratingly poor either. The picture is from a downtown shopping district with upscale stores, although you wouldn’t think so from the picture. The street was lined with vendors selling everything from used consumer electronics for locals to souvenirs and colourful fabrics for tourists, and the place was packed with people. Walking down the street, I came under a barrage of soliciting from eager hustlers and hawkers. In no place have I seen as persistent hustlers as in Dakar; on two occasions, I had a hanger-on for about an hour. Finally I learned the trick to avoiding that (a firm and curt no thank you, followed by complete disinterest — no point in being rude). Safety was never an issue — pickpocketing may exist but robberies do not, at least as such, though I did overpay for a couple of souvenirs.

Dakar was an extremely fascinating place to visit, full of contrasts, not least in the dresses worn by local women (they dressed so beautifully), and between the dirt of the city and the palmy shores of the ocean. I chose this picture because in a way it sums up Dakar — bustling and dynamic.

More pictures and reflections to follow shortly.

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Bjørnar Egede-Nissen © 2014. Some rights reserved.