The Social Solidarity Economy is also lived in Senegal through an ancestral concept that guides the way people interact with each other. It is an idea that comes from Wolof, one of the 39 languages that the country is home to, used as a lingua franca and coming from the ethnic group with the same name that represents 43% of the total population.
Teranga emphasises generosity of spirit and sharing in all encounters, even with strangers; sharing time and enjoying it, feeling that the other person is with you, in the same place: here and now. “Teranga is not just a word, it is a political structure, conveying meaning and dynamism, because life evolves,” says Abdourahmane Seck, professor at Gaston Berger University in St Louis, Senegal.
In the etymology of Teranga there are several roots within. Namely: “ter“, which is like landing, after a journey, is to arrive on dry land after a long journey, because it is used especially in the field of fishermen, and names the encounter that makes us exist (before the arrival we do not exist); “teu” has to do with waiting, but it is not about passive waiting but about preparing the place and acclaiming the one who arrives; “teran” conveys the idea of attaining one’s own meaning, or the possibility of truly becoming oneself, or the fullness of being, and finally “terang“, which speaks of receiving with care, taking care of the other, because the other is someone equal to oneself“, according to the expression of the Senegalese anthropologist.
This concept can be likened to the idea of the ancestral Latin American Pachamama, which promotes us being part of one unique thing: Earth; or to the values of respect of the Latin American Buen Vivir, which can be transferred to the solidarity and empathy that run through all the practices of the authentic Social Solidarity Economy: the one that puts people and our environment at the centre, the one that advocates a retroactive encounter between people and where we all learn from each other and from nature, guided by generosity, hospitality, quality, equity and equality.
On Africa Day, we cannot forget our days in Dakar: the stay at the Oceanic Hotel, where Ripess not only hosted most of the team and held the RAESS General Assembly, but also treated us as if we were part of the family. Nor did we forget the good times we had meeting and sharing day by day with the alliances, WSM, INSP!R, WIEGO, with whom we not only learned about their activities and values, but also met great people with whom we are looking forward to sharing even more solidarity. It was with them that we celebrated a vindicative 1st of May in which we got to know the struggles of the workers of Dakar, from the waste pickers, to the public workers, the cooks and the labour lawyers of the CNTS headquarters.
It is the hope of the Teranga that drives us to continue working for a world of greater solidarity, where our labour and the labour of people on all continents is decent, respected and respectable. Where people treat each other as equals, because “the other is equal to oneself” and it is from others that we learn to be better people.
Thank you, Africa.
In the photo: The Network of transformers women of Pout, who have done an enormous work of solidarity and empowerment respecting the products and customs of the place, receive Ripess and ECOSOL together with the mayor and authorities of the area. Not only them, the music, the Senegalese lions, the children of the village and a multitude of people made this, the first day in Senegal for many, unforgettable. True Teranga feeling.