We've been known to play favorites. In fact, when Travel Noire asked me to name my favorite West African city of the three I've visited, I wasted no time naming Dakar. I emphasized how the deep appreciation for the arts and culture made me fall in love with the city. But, there is so much about Dakar that I love. Below, a few of my favorite memories:
1. Ngor Island: Ngor is an island off the coast of Senegal, popular with surfers. Many of the residential properties on Ngor have gardens within their walls. The gardens are filled with bougainvillea that grow beyond the walls and drop their flowers into the sand. Ngor transported me with its smells (of roasted meat and salt water) and ocean sounds, as I walked through the island on flowers and sand.
2. The Medina's Street Art: As mentioned in the Travel Noire article, I tagged along on a visit to the medina with Yataal Art, a collective that connects street artists and medina residents, and artist Miss Me. Eavesdropping on residents talk art and politics with street artists before their home is used as a canvas is not something I'm lucky enough to do often. The result is fantastic - a mosaic of modern art that makes both the artists and residents proud.
3. Sophie Zinga: Sophie Zinga creates beautiful dresses, but it is her customer service that keeps me coming back and has me hold her so high in my esteem. My experience at her flagship store was nothing short of wonderful. Recently, I bought another Sophie Zinga gown where Sophie herself, though she was busy and fasting, came to my New York apartment for a fitting. I realized later that she was in the process of creating a diffusion line, Zinga by Sophie Zinga, and was also preparing to dress Lupita Nyong'o as she took time to make sure my dress fit perfectly.
4. Goree Island: Goree is a UNESCO World Heritage site best known for its Maison des Esclaves - a museum and memorial to the Atlantic Slave Trade. Last time I traveled to Goree, I happened upon a wedding while walking through a maze of multicolored homes and was welcomed and encouraged to join the dancing, which I did...for a bit.
Dakar is a charming city. Though it is small compared to Accra, Abidjan or Lagos, it is packed to the brim with beauty and art that residents are eager to share with you.