Senegalese Sprinting Society
Not quite Olympic speed, but don’t start slaking yet
Ever wonder how to attract the attention of kids in Africa? Well I can tell you exactly how to captivate an entire mob of kids in Senegal: run by with a GPS and a digital camera. Now you can just run by and they’ll call and maybe run with you for a bit, but if you have toys, preferably cool toys, you now have an instant fan base.
Today, trying to shake off the lethargy of another long day sitting at the computer, I went for a four mile run out to Pointe des Almadies and back. On my way, I passed a group of kids playing. Stopping to play with them, I was a hit.
First we had the limited name exchange, complete with the class mimic who would shout every thing I said. Then there was the hand-holder who held onto either palm the second it came in his reach. Next we had the question kid, who I’m sure was doing the ‘What’s this? What’s that?’ in French. Last but not least, the leader, who was cool in approach and quick in ideas.
His first was a race to the end of the road, which I won handily, even with a little kid acting ballast, tugging at my shirt from behind. Next it was a Q & A session in pantomime with the GPS a very big hit. Holding it at a quick run, they watched the little guy on the screen run, making his digital path to match their real one. While I use it to make sure I really run the distance I need to train, they were happy to use it to draw shapes on the screen.
Shapes that were instantly forgotten when I whipped out the digital camera. Its images, instantly recognized, captivated the entire scrum of kids. Only a second race could get them to disengage. Back to the end of the road we ran, again, with my speed easily surpassing theirs. Still, the sprit did engage them, for when I finally left a few started to race.
Soon, I bet, we shall see new leaders in field an track, leaders from Ngor, banded together in a Senegalese sprinting society, started by yours truly one late afternoon in February, 2005.