No, I’m not talking about “owies” or multiple reproductions of Yogie Bear’s loveable sidekick. I’m talking about Senegal’s mbubb – the country’s traditional dress. On Friday November 9, I went to a tailor and had two of them made. I’d picked out my material back in September, but I wanted to find a good tailor and I didn’t quite know how to go about that. It turns out that Faye, the 25 year-old girl that I share my office with has an uncle (or some relative) that is a tailor, so she took me to see him. He had quite a few magazines of different styles, so I picked two out, asked him to change the style of the sleeves, and I also mixed and matched the pattern of the dress and the embroidery designs. He let me pick out the different colors I wanted for the embroidery – and it’s a good thing he did because when I asked for his suggestions, I didn’t like the options that he gave me. So I’m glad he let me have the final say in that regard. The amazing thing is that the tailors don’t work from patterns. They just look at the picture and get to work. I could have had more complicated designs embroidered in, but the more elegant ones made the final cost much more expensive. But I’m happy with the ones I finally chose. I picked the dresses up Thursday the 15th after work and wore one of them to the office the next day. Since I knew my mother (and other people, as well) would want pictures of them, I took my camera to the office, too. My nice professional camera that looks way impressive. As soon as my co-workers saw me in my boubou with my camera, they immediately lined up for pictures. So we had a fashion photo shoot. I’d never seen them let their hair down like that, so it kind of surprised me. Normally they’re all business, but as soon as they saw that camera, the professional demeanor flew out the window. It was awesome.
It was amazing to see their reaction to my outfit. All of the ladies got huge smiles, and they were so tickled to see me à la Sénégalaise that they laughed, clapped their hands, and hugged me. Madame Sy, the PARRER secretary tied my head wrap. They had me turn in circles and they oohed and ahhed over the whole thing and told me how beautiful I looked. All of them wanted to be in a picture with me, and then the younger ones struck pose after pose in their boubous. Finally, after about 20 minutes Bamba – the executive director – came into Madame Ndiaye’s office and was like, “What in the world is going on in here?” And then he saw me and he said, “Oh! Well! She’s turned into one of us!” and he gave me quite a few compliments, too. It was pretty fun. Then he went back into his office and grabbed his iPad and started taking pictures of me and the girls, too. It was quite hilarious.
On my way home a lot of Senegalese men and women smiled and told me how pretty my dress was – which means that I got quite a few more catcalls than normal. But I didn’t mind it quite as much that day. It was amazing to see how proud and happy everyone was to see me in the the traditional dress. When I got home I retied the wrap because I wasn’t too crazy about the one that the ladies did at the office. Plus I had to practice to make sure that I could tie one on my own. It’s harder than it looks, but I succeeded. I also documented that for posterity. Needless to say, I was pretty proud of my feat!
I wore my blue one to Church at the Jones’ today. Tristan echoed my sister Amber’s comment when he said that the design looked like Spiderman costume, and then Lissa asked if I’d intentionally chose the colors so it would look like an IKEA bag. That made me laugh – I hadn’t even thought of that… but it’s true. Oh well. It was better than the nasty brown color that the tailor originally wanted to use.
So there you go. It was quite the experience. Fortunately there weren’t any casualties at the shooting.