-“Many young women here practice the Mbarane, specially at Christmas.”
My friend Ibrahima from Dakar expressed the term in Wolof language, the widely spoken language of Sénégal in Western Africa. Loosely translated as “tentacles”, it refers to the increasingly common practice of young women to collect lovers in order to capture resources to have a good standard of living and/or enjoy an emancipated lifestyle.
In their frantic quest for material and/or sexual comfort, those ladies do not have any prejudice in openly sharing their affection with multiple men. In a recent account of a birthday party for the son of one of these “mbaraneuses”, she explained why she had invited all her lovers to the same party to celebrate one of her son’s birthday. “If they hadn’t contributed a little each, I wouldn’t have been able to organize it. I don’t have relationships with these men…I manage my attachment to them… Simple as that.”
The Senegalese intelligentsia has criticized the role of local “telenovelas” (like “Dinama Nekh” or “Happyness”) that feature “mbaraneueses” in star roles and teach young girls how to become a successful one. They show how they should never appear in any picture that might get diffused in the social networks, how they must carry multiple phone lines and avoid sending SMS.
Dijby Diakhate, a Senegalese sociologist, said that the series’ emphasis on the glamorous side of their sexual adventures has the unexpected collateral effect of giving a dubious seal of approval to a questionable social practice. The poor and impressionable young girls see it as a good way out but eventually they will suffer from the pervasive plague of our times: emotional frustration. Many social activists are lobbying the TV executives on this issue.
Diakathe says that young women have misinterpreted the message…Have they really?
Considering that soap operas in Western TV are full of feminine characters, which use “hook or crook” to climb the social ladder, are those women wrong in seeking an edge?
It was always assumed that women have their fantasies but men have their experiences. The feminine emancipation in our societies and the loosening of social habitudes have opened the concept of a “two-plus” lifestyle for a woman without the stigma of censure.
What do you think? Please tell us.
Don’t leave me alone.