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“I Am a German Street Vendor in Dakar”

Being a street vendor is not an easy job, especially in Senegal. Yet this is the choice that Sebastian Prothmann, a native of Germany, made after he arrived in Dakar, Senegal a few months ago. The following video shows Prothmann at work [fr]:

Prothmann explains in an interview for the Dakaroiseries blog how he came to this unusual job [fr] in a western African country :

Au début de mon séjour j’ai rencontré un jeune homme qui a lors de notre premier contact manifesté son désir ardent de quitter le Sénégal. J’étais curieux de comprendre son ‘’monde vécu’’ pour aboutir à des interprétations socio-culturelles sur  son envie  d’émigrer. Il était marchand ambulant. Donc, un jour je lui ai demandé si je pouvais l’accompagner dans sa routine quotidienne. Ce qu’il a accepté. Il m’a donc fait faire un premier tour, soi-disant pour mon apprentissage.  Il en  était réjoui, car on a fait de bons bénéfices [..] Avec cet engagement, j’ai eu plus des prises de conscience dans le secteur informel, communément appelé aussi « Dóor waar », qui joue un rôle fondamental pour la jeunesse sénégalaise. [..] j’étais souvent confronté à une incrédulité frappante quant à mes origines. La plupart des personnes n’ont pas cru qu’un homme blanc peut s’investir dans un tel travail. Plusieurs fois j’étais aussi confronté à une confiance plus élaboré á mon égard. Il y avait des considérations selon lesquels moi en tant que Blanc devait vendre des produits de bonne qualité.

At the beginning of my stay (in Senegal), I met a young man who at our first meeting expressed his longing to leave Senegal. I wanted to understand why he wanted to leave and how his everyday life was so I could comprehend the socio-cultural interpretations of his desire to leave. He was a peddler. So one day I asked if I could accompany him in his daily routine hhich he accepted. After he made ​​me do a round as a vendor, supposedly for my training. He was glad because he made some good profits [ ..] With this new work, I had a better understanding of the informal sector here, commonly known as “door waar ” which plays a fundamental role in the lives of Senegalese youth . [ ..] I was often faced with disbelief when it came to my origins. Most people did not believe that a white man can get involved in such work here. Several times I was also granted more trust about my products than the other street vendors. There was a prevailing line of thinking that suggested that a white person must be selling good quality products .

 

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