nuyu: to greet

Senegal is a land of small talk. It is not a place where you brusquely go about your business. You cannot walk into a store and say, “One can of tomatoes, please.” No, no, you must nuyu—greet—the person there, just like you would everyone else. And this is a process.
First, you must ask them they are doing, in any or all languages: Asaalaam alekum. Malekum salam. Nagadef? Maangiiy fii. Yaangiiy nos? Tutti rekk. Yaangiiy nos? Yaangiiy lekk sa xaalis! Ça va? Ça va. En forme? En forme.

Then, you can go on and ask them about their day, or about their meal, or about their morning, or about their work: Naka suba si? Naka journée bi? Naka ligéey bi? Jang nga bu baax?

And then, it is very important to ask about their family (this is important, even if you don’t know their family personally): Ana waa ker ga? Ñungiiy fa. Ana sa yaay? Mungiiy fa. Ana sa pappa? Mungiiy fa.

And there you have it! The basics of a Wolof salutation. Now you can order your food, or continue on your walk. Or, even better, you can stay and talk, drink attaya, and enjoy hours of conversation. It is no wonder that time is so loose here—passing people on the street can take hours!


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