|Sineta George - SenegalStyle|
(Guest Blogger Sineta George owner of Senegal Style. Original post Thorn Tree Travel Forum)
Hello again and Greetings from Senegal!
It's as safe now in Senegal (and Casamance) as it ever was as long as you stay away from obvious hot spots, political rallies and/or protests.
I originally did a post this summer on another online travel forum when there were protests about power shortages (which we don't have anymore) and now, here we go again.
We've got another travel advisory flagged for Senegal (because of the elections), in big red letters, a 'Travel Alert' - Safety Concerns and you have raised an important issue to many people that have never been to West Africa and therefore pay a lot of attention to these types of warnings. I wish to put this issue into perspective however.
Having said that, let me state for the record that I am an America woman, single parent of 3 young American adults that spent 12 years of their lives here in Senegal, with me. 2 are back in the US and I have one 18 yr old still in school, here in Dakar.
I moved here in 1999 BECAUSE it is such a peaceful and tranquil country.
Most people have never heard of Senegal because there's not been any wars, famine, epidemics (HIV/AIDS rate is less that 0.7%!), capital punishment, child pornography rings, slavery or anything else that would normally get a country in the news.
The Senegalese people are guilty only of exercising their civil rights - the freedom to protest against their government and every time they do, Senegal gets slapped with a travel advisory by western embassies, namely the US and Canada and then everyone else follows suit.
HOWEVER, and this is really the crux of the matter, in light of all the 'Occupy' wherever protests going on in the US and other places - why aren't there travel warnings to Washington, DC? New York? Greece? The Italian people are always having a protest about something and so is France but there isn't any (serious) travel warnings about those countries.
Did you ever wonder why?
To make another point, the 10 cities with the highest murder rates in America are (and I just googled it and you can do your own research, the results may change but the point is the same):
St Petersburg, FL
Los Angeles, CA
As I said previously, I'm American and my home state is Florida. If you do a google search for a list of the top ten cities with the highest murder rates like I just did, you will find that Florida has 5 of the top ten per capital , (and to me, that's a 'security concern' ). Has anyone ever seen a 'Travel Advisory' to the state where Disneyland is located? (Number 4!) Atlanta, GA, Dallas, TX and Birmingham, AL are right next door and throw in Tennessee to the mix then it becomes 9 of the top 10 are in the south. That's sad.
If you look for the top ten LOWEST murder rates, Senegal comes in 2nd from the bottom. Iceland has the lowest murder rate, followed by a bunch of West African countries (6 all together out of 10) that ALWAYS get travel warnings issued against them!
This is where I got the info above from:
And again, using online states going from the bottom, being Iceland to #10, Oman:
# BURKINO FASO
Think about that. All these places (I put in caps for emphasis) are West African and have travel advisories against them. In some cases, yes a few people, adventure travelers in remote places and ngo people not following their security guidelines have died in some type of random violence in a year. Count them all up for 2011 and it's less than the body count over New Years in the US. Where I come from, a few people are murdered every weekend and random violence... let's not even go there! At least once a month someone goes 'postal' and shoots several people at once.
What's the difference but you're worried about safety over here?
Just because you have a visa to travel doesn't mean it's a safety shield from destiny or plain bad luck. Adventure travelers, people who meet a stranger, call him a friend and then go off in to remote locations with no plans, no local contacts, nothing, truly expect that nothing should happen to them BUT WHAT'S SURPRISING, is that nothing usually does.
Try doing this in your home country and see what happens to you. Africans are much more forgiving of western mentalities for 'thrill seeking' and adventure travel and put up with it every day.
Senegal is number 2 in the world with the fewest murders and Orlando (Disneyland) is the 3rd highest in America. Those crime rates are never reported on CNN or BBC or even Aljazeera are they?
What's wrong with this picture?
Don't change your travel plans folks, stay away from political rallies and exercise the same judgment here that you would if you were at home in a large city and you'll be fine.
The places we come from in the western modern world are way more violent than Senegal or any other '3rd world country' in West Africa will ever be!
Do your homework online and feel free to email me at SenegalStyle@gmail.com.
Doin' it SenegalStyle!
Sineta George - Google me; I'm legit!