-“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.



9 thoughts on “The Mbarane phenomenon

  1. Tres interessant.Le mbarane est une realite bien senegalaise et cest vraiment dommage..

    1. Bon jour mon cher ami Ibrahima et merci beaucoup pour ta reponse. Oui le Mbarane est une realite Sengalaise mais le probleme c’est al manque de bonnes opportunites laborales por toutes ces jeunes femmes qui doivent faire recours a cette escroquerie. Il faut continuer a lutter por la democratie et la dignite en Afrique car il y a une explosion demographique de jeunes gens que n’ont pas d’opportunites. Excuse-moi la manque d’accents mais je ne peux pas les mettre dans cet ordinateur.S’il te plait, continue a lire et commenter mes blogs dans la langue de Moliere que, cependant avoir ete un outil de colonisation,maintenant peut nous unir. A bientot mon ami.

  2. Well…for a Lady like me that’s sad and very passe.
    We now have access to education and financial independence but some ladies still prefer to be “taken care of” by any man.

    Also many Caribbean men prefer this arrangement as they have been known to justify dalliances outside their marriages by saying ” You cannot eat Chicken every day.”

    Not sure what values are imparted to the “meal ticket children” but it cannot be healthy.

    1. Dear Island Woman: good morning and thank you for your commentary. I agree with you that this kind of “social shortcut for advancement” is fostered by the lack of bonafide working opportunities for women in patriarchal societies and that it constitutes an appallingly nefarious arrangement for the children born in these “relationships.” But how about the mercantilist media that glamourizes these women in the sopa operas? There are hundreds of French professionals and business people living and working in Senegal. Shouldn’ t they be condemning this practice more openly?

  3. Una especie de harén moderno, pero a la inversa del que clásicamente conocemos a través de la historia. La lectura deja un sabor amargo y no porque el lector – en este caso quien escribe este comentario – provenga de una zona del mundo donde la “supremacía masculina” ( machismo) se haya empoderado durante mucho tiempo de la sociedad, sino porque la figura femenina queda empobrecida y empequeñecida en un todo. Quizás haya que analizar la realidad que cada una de ellas vive, los desafíos y las carencias a las que se enfrentan, pero no deja de generarme una especie de vacío interior.

    1. Querido Carlitos: buenos dias y muchas gracias por tu comentario. Estoy de acuerdo en que la figura femenina sale empobrecida por este tipo de “trucos para salir adelante” que seguramente estan promovidos por dos grandes razones. Una es la falta de oportunidades laborales dignas para la mujer en muchas sociedades patriarcales y la otra es la explotacion mediatica de las debilidades y necesidades humanas. Un gran abrazo.

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