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  • Séjour chez Moustapha Sarr / Visiting Moustapha Sarr
  • John Marson Dunaway (bio)

Séjour chez Moustapha Sarr

(un poème en prose composé au Delta sénégalais)

L’après-midi on s’allonge sur une natteDans l’ombre aérée de la cour. Le vent passe.On bavarde. On me donne des leçons de wolof.Moi, j’offre le vocabulaire d’anglais aux jeunes.

Le soir, on s’allonge sous la moustiquaire.Comme mosquée nous avons le grand dôme étoilé.Je suis ébloui par une étoile filante.Moustapha allume la radio … Ndiane Faye a marqué un but.Sénégal 1, Algérie 0! Grande victoire inattendue! …Poisson-frites et mangues, quel banquet!Lëwël et saani couronnent la fête.On écoute un morceau de Gershwin: Porgy et BessL’Afrique reliée à l’Amérique grâce à un JuifQui s’est épris du peuple Gullah à Charleston.On «passe la nuit en paix.»A l’aube Moustapha fait la prière sur sa sajada.Moi, tout près sous la moustiquaire, je prie ma propre aubade,Inspiré par son exemple.Nous sommes frères. Maa ngiy sant yalla!

Visiting Moustapha Sarr

(a prose-poem composed in the Senegal River Delta)

During midday we recline on rattan matsIn the breezy shade of the courtyard shelter.We chat; they give me Wolof lessons.I provide English vocabulary to the eager youth.

In the evening we recline under the mosquito-net.For mosque we have the star-studded cupola of heaven.I am dazzled by a falling star.Moustapha turns on the radio … Ndiane Faye has scored a goal.Senegal 1, Algeria nil! A great, unexpected victory!Chicken in mustard sauce, fresh fries and mangoes, a veritable banquet!Lëwël1 and saani2 crown the feast.We listen to music from Gershwin: Porgy and BessAfrica joined to the American South, thanks to a Northern JewWho’s fallen in love with the Gullah people of Charleston.We “pass the night in peace.”At dawn Moustapha prays, kneeling on his sajada.3Nearby under the mosquito net I pray my own aubade,4Inspired by his example.We are brothers. Maa ngiy sant yalla!5

John Marson Dunaway

John Marson Dunaway is a professor of French and interdisciplinary studies at Mercer University. His research has focused on modern French religious writers. His translation of Jean-Louis Chrétien’s Sous le regard de la Bible/Under the Gaze of the Bible is forthcoming from Fordham UP.


1. First cup of tea (strong, sweet, hot, with mint, the national drink of Senegal);

2. Second cup of tea;

3. Prayer rug;

4. Morning song;

5. Praise be to God! [End Page 649]



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