The text simply said, “The old man, Lamine Goudyabi, is dead.” We met Lamine about a week-and-a-half before I received the text. We were visiting with a friend in the
and we were getting a “tour” of the
village. A real tour of a small village in southern Senegal means that you stop
at the home of all of the “notables” of the village to exchange greetings, chat
for a bit, and usually receive a small gift of oranges or peanuts from their
garden. This is how you say “Welcome!” in our part of the world. village of Birassou
Our tour took us to the house of Lamine Goudyabi. This visit was a little more special and a bit more important because our family name here in
is also Goudyabi and Lamine and his family were the only Goudyabi’s in the village.
Lamine was seated on a mat outside of his house with an older man and a young boy. They were chatting, drinking tea, and shelling peanuts. After exchanging greetings we joked about having the same family name and how we were all related: us the white Goudyabi’s from
America and he and his family the African
Goudyabi’s who had never travelled far from southern . Since it was our first
trip to the village we had our camera with us, so we asked him if we could take
a picture of him to remember our brief visit. Of course he obliged us and we
took several photos of him and the young boy sitting on their mat. Senegal
After getting the photos printed we showed them to our friend from Birassou Bodaincounda and told him that we wanted to return to the village to give them away in person. He is in the middle of his preparations for some tests at the high school, so he told us that we would plan a day in the coming weeks; a day to go back and revisit the folks that we met and give them their pictures.
The next day I received the text telling me that Lamine Goudyabi was dead. He had gotten sick and had been sick for a few days before he was taken to the “hospital” in a nearby town where he died. My friend attended his burial in the village. When I asked him all of the general questions that we would ask in our culture after such an event, such as, “How is the family?” he just shrugged as if to say, “This is the reality of life here. This happens and we move on.”
I am not sure what we will do with our picture of Lamine Goudyabi and the young boy sitting on their mat. Maybe we will give it to one of Lamine’s widows when we visit the village again. Maybe we will find the young boy and give it to him as a way to remember Lamine. Or maybe we will just keep it. Maybe we will keep it as a reminder that time is short and that the message of the Gospel is urgent.