This is a story about a money order. Yes, a money order. This story shows the journey of a money order in Senegal. The piece of paper has been sent by Abdou who lives in Paris and who has made some money. The fortunate recipient is his relative Abrahima Dieng. The local postman delivers the letter. Dieng is not at home at the time of the delivery, so his two wives take hold of the piece of paper. Due to the postman telling about his special delivery more and more people hear about it. When Dieng later on in the day reads the letter he finds out that a small sum of money is dedicated to him, part of it is destinated for the mother of Abdou, the largest part is meant for Abdou and his future plans in the village.
But how can Dieng collect the money? He is illiterate and needs the help of a fellow villager. There are no possibilities to collect the money at the place where he lives. The journey continues. Dieng travels and he needs to have a birthcertificate, an identity card. People from the village knock at his door in the hope to get part of Dieng’s share. They approach his wives. They want some extra rice, some extra food. He spends money before he collects the money order.
Dieng becomes becomes a victim of the modern world in which he does not know the right road to travel. Others have adopted the new ways in Senegal and are benefitting from it. Dieng is a blind man in a dark room who wants to honour the age old traditions, but these traditions are fading away. Others have become crooks and conmen. Dieng gropes around in the dark, with the best intentions and firmly rooted in the old traditions.
This is beautiful story about a money order, but most of all it is a story about a firm change in a society. The new ways (a local adoption of western ways ) bang headon with the old ways. And Dieng is right in the hard spot. This story that is in a way a hilarious story is deep down a sad story.
Sembène Ousmane – Le Mandat – 1966