GOOD

Dakar, Senegal

Dakar is #9 on The 2014 GOOD City Index.

Dakar may not be considered as a global hub, but the city, which serves as the West African headquarters for many NGOs and international agencies, is increasingly serving a global role. In 2014, the capital gained worldwide praise for its management of the Ebola pandemic. As of press time, Dakar had only a single case of the disease, which city officials quashed quickly with public awareness campaigns designed to dispel misinformation and rumors. But Dakar is also proving to be progressive outside of crisis management. Recent urban projects in the city have improved the appearance of paved roads and tiled sidewalks, allowing many citizens to take leisurely strolls (for the first time in some places). Many in the city are also becoming accustomed to the tech-driven convenience that one would expect in cities like London or New York: A new home delivery service called Sen-Express offers home delivery for anything from food to appliances from any shop or restaurant in the city. And while Dakar’s frequent water and power cuts can be slightly annoying at times, the city is fast defining what a modern African capital can be.


Hub for progress

The Raw Material Company may sound like a vegan food chain or an organic clothing shop, but it’s actually a space for symposiums and courses that bring together local and international artists and creative thinkers. Rotating exhibitions can be found in Raw’s spacious gallery, which patrons can browse before mingling on the rooftop restaurant for a drink or meal.

Civic engagement

Having just completed its second season this year, Dakar’s innovative Journal Rappé is more popular than ever. With more than 2.26 million views on their YouTube channel, local hip-hop artists Xuman and Keyti rap the week’s top news each Friday, in both French and Wolof. With their irreverent lyrics and heavy bass lines, Journal Rappé keep young citizens up to date on things that should matter to citizens of the city.

Street life

Need a full-length mirror? Or the complete works of Shakespeare? How about a new tube of mascara? Grilled peanuts? Or a coconut hacked opened by a roadside machete wielder? Dakar is a city full of hustlers. That’s just how most commerce works here. Someone will approach your car window to try and sell you something you never even knew you needed. Despite an attempt last year by the mayor to remove roadside sellers and street hawkers in many parts of the city—calling them “anarchic occupations”—2014 (thankfully) saw the prompt return of Dakar’s eclectic peddler culture.

Defining moment

Following the arrival of a single case of Ebola imported from Guinea in August, the city quickly came together to step up prevention and response efforts. Government and health workers went to work educating the public, while local shops and schools set up hand sanitizing stations. After nearly two months of fear that Senegal would become the next Guinea or Liberia, the World Health Organization declared the entire nation Ebola-free in October.

Connectivity

Dakar’s famous colorful car rapides, or informal minibus taxis, got an upgrade this year: free Wi-Fi. The select buses are painted bright blue and feature advertisements so people know which ones to hop on if they want an internet connection on their commute to work. And, at just $0.50 to make it from one end of town to the other, the hop-on-hop-off buses are the most efficient way to get around.

Green life

This year saw a positive step forward in Dakar’s pollution problem with the city hosting the fifth annual Africa Water Week in May. Aimed to help those without access to a sanitary water source, the event focused on sustainable management of Africa’s water resources and on delivery of safe water to more people. The resulting Dakar Declaration, which called for a dedicated goal on water security and sanitation, was met with endorsements from international NGOs like WaterAid.

Diversity

With many NGOs and international agencies headquartered in Dakar, the city serves as a hub for plenty of international travel to and from the West African region. Because of this, Dakar officials had a particular challenge managing the Ebola outbreak, setting up a temporary “humanitarian corridor” at a local airbase to expedite health checks of humanitarian workers. The WHO applauded the response the response of Dakar officials.

Work/life balance

The biggest Muslim festival of the year in Dakar is Tabaski, known to other Muslims as Eid al-Adha. Preparations for the Feast of the Sacrifice dominate citizens’ time in the lead-up to the festival, held this year on October 4. While local government usually relaxes border controls and regulations to allow for the influx of 250,000 sheep that are needed for the festival, this year about 1,000 families received their sacrificial animal via Dakar-based e-commerce site Niokobok, a new social tool that allows the overseas Senegalese diaspora to gift food and provisions to their family living in Dakar.

Jennifer Lazuta has been working as a freelance journalist, covering health and humanitarian issues in Dakar since 2012. She enjoys long morning runs alongside the coastal seaside path and then "cooling off" with fresh coconut water from roadside vendors. Getting lost in the chaos of local markets and “bargaining hard” is also a favorite pastime.

Features
AFP News Agency / Twitter

A study out of Belgium found that smart people are much less likely to be bigoted. The same study also found that people who are bigoted are more likely to overestimate their own intelligence.

A horrifying story out of Germany is a perfect example of this truth on full display: an anti-Semite was so dumb the was unable to open a door at the temple he tried to attack.

On Wednesday, October 9, congregants gathered at a synagogue in Humboldtstrasse, Germany for a Yom Kippur service, and an anti-Semite armed with explosives and carrying a rifle attempted to barge in through the door.

Keep Reading Show less
Communities
via Andi-Graf / Pixabay

The old saying goes something like, "Possessions don't make you happy." A more dire version is, "What you own, ends up owning you."

Are these old adages true or just the empty words of ancient party-poopers challenging you not to buy an iPhone 11? According to a new study of 968 young adults by the University of Arizona, being materialistic only brings us misery.

The study examined how engaging in pro-environmental behaviors affects the well-being of millenials. The study found two ways in which they modify their behaviors to help the environment: they either reduce what they consume or purchase green items.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

One of the biggest obstacles to getting assault weapons banned in the United States is the amount of money they generate.

There were around 10 million guns manufactured in the U.S. in 2016 of which around 2 million were semiautomatic, assault-style weapons. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry's trade association, the U.S. industry's total economic impact in 2016 alone was $51 billion.

In 2016, the NRA gave over $50 million to buy support from lawmakers. When one considers the tens of millions of dollars spent on commerce and corruption, it's no wonder gun control advocates have an uphill battle.

That, of course, assumes that money can control just about anyone in the equation. However, there are a few brave souls who actually value human life over profit.

Keep Reading Show less
Health
via Reddit and NASA / Wikimedia Commons

Trees give us a unique glimpse into our past. An examination of tree rings can show us what the climate was like in a given year. Was it a wet winter? Were there hurricanes in the summer? Did a forest fire ravage the area?

An ancient tree in New Zealand is the first to provide evidence of the near reversal of the Earth's magnetic field over 41,000 years ago.

Over the past 83 million years there have been 183 magnetic pole reversals, a process that takes about 7,000 years to complete.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Pixabay

The final episode of "The Sopranos" made a lot of people angry because it ends with mob boss Tony Soprano and his family eating at an ice cream parlor while "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey plays in the background … and then, suddenly, the screen turns black.

Some thought the ending was a dirty trick, while others saw it as a stroke of brilliance. A popular theory is that Tony gets shot, but doesn't know it because, as his brother-in-law Bobby Baccala said, "You probably don't even hear it when it happens, right?"

So the show gives us all an idea of what it's like to die. We're here and then we're not.

Keep Reading Show less
Health