Out the door, down the stairs, onto the street, turning around to close the front door behind me…


Three steps out, shop’s across the street…


…emerging from shop with baguette…


…four steps along the street in the direction of the fruit stall on the corner…


…six steps later on the way to same fruit stall…


…returning from fruit stall with a few Clementines, just crossing the street to another shop to get some mineral water (which is…


…I said: which is for my coffee machine).

Swinging by the newspaper stand and there is temporary relief…

…home stretch with the groceries but just before getting into the door…


This is not a car alarm constantly going off, nor is it an irritating kid playing with some obnoxious electronic device whilst keeping up with me.



…. the sound of Dakar’s taxis. And if there is one thing I could change about this place…


…I would BAN these incessant short sharp hits on the claxon button.


When it is


blatantly clear that I have no


intention to use a taxi because I did not wave my arm or nod my head, I did not look in the direction of the driver or made any gesture at all to suggest that I was going to need a ride.

BEEP! “Taxi?”

This is quickly (and unhealthily I admit!) becoming my Dakar pet hate. Taximen: I will let you know when I intend to make use of your services, thank you. No need to BEEP!, slow down when I am trying to cross the effin’ road, flash lights, BEEP! some more. I – WILL – LET – YOU – KNOW!!!

Bloody hell.

And there is no real solace in the realisation that they do it to absolutely everyone who looks well-dressed, briefcased, or foreign.

Last night, as I was taking out a pizza, sure enough: the inevitable BEEP! “Taxi?” right in front of the take away store. ‘Man, you’re joking – it’s 300 metres, tops, to my home.’ The reply: ‘Well, I’ll take you.’ It somehow never occurs to the dear drivers that someone who is walking fast in a straight line with a take away pizza in his hand it highly unlikely to be wanting a taxi. Nooooo – it’s…

BEEP! “Taxi?”

Told you it was becoming a pet hate, right?

Taking a break from the beep. Photo: Martin Waalboer

But there are times you do need a taxi, though, which is another minor headache.

‘Salaam aleikoum.’

‘Aleikoum salaam.’

‘Bëggue dem VDN – Cimetière’ (Trying out my rudimentary Wolof for ‘I’d like to go to VDN, which is a thoroughfare, Cimetière being near the office where I pay my rent. I walk it at times but not when I’m busy or can’t be bothered.)


‘Fii ba Cimetière ñaata?’ (Never get into a taxi without knowing the price)

=some ridiculous amount is mentioned=

‘Mon frère, seer na lool’ (probably won’t need translation.)

=slightly less ridiculous amount=

‘OK, mille francs.”

‘Deux mille.’

‘My good friend, it’s round the corner, you can take me to town for that amount.’

‘Mille cinq cents.’

By then, I want to be on my way. And again, no solace in the realisation that this happens to absolutely everyone who takes a taxi. It’s a ritual but one that wears out pretty quickly, especially when you have to do this often.

My street. Fruit stall roof on the top left. Very low taxi density on this pic.

But the real BEEP! problem is of course that there are BEEP! entirely too many of them. Way too BEEP! many taxis chasing way too little BEEP! money. At the Forum last week, someone offered me a ride from one building to the next building – for a thousand francs, €1,50. I’ll give you a hundred, I said and he was genuinely prepared to take the offer…

These are desperate times. Crisis in nearby Côte d’Ivoire lingers on with great impact on the whole region (still, bless Abidjan taxis – they have metres!); oil hits $100/barrel again (import bill goes through the roof here); economy stubbornly refuses to take off, as the government stifles any entrepreneurial spirit that isn’t tied to the Royal Family in one way or another. So, what’s a humble taxi driver to do? BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! for attention in the hope that someone will take him up on his offer. After negotiation.

But good grief – it’s annoying. Even more so when I know that once inside, you can have great conversation, crack jokes, take instant Wolof tutorials…just stop that bloody incessant…


Oh well.

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3 Responses to “BEEP!”

  1. Kevin Says:

    Bram, I can’t beleive a diatribe on Dakar Taxis without the mention of lack of change. I think there is a severe shortage of $1000 CFA notes, that or it’s a typical hustle for type that you have to round up to pay for a ride.
    But, being back in the states, I’ll admit I miss it all!

    • bramposthumus Says:

      Very true that! Add that to our Dakar pleasure&woe list. Just had another great taxi ride: beep – fare negotiation – long discussion about the power cuts – et voilà: back in Yoff. And of course three beeps! when walking the 100 metres back to my home….

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