Modou rises to the top ranks of the trade union for which he works. Meanwhile, Senegal is in the midst of achieving its independence. Debate over the right path forward—how best to shed the history of colonial exploitation and bring a new republic into being—grips the country. Ramatoulaye sees her generation as occupying a privileged but difficult position between two distinct eras. Modou leads his trade union into collaboration with the government. He is skeptical, however, of the hasty establishment of too many embassies, which he sees as an unnecessary drain on Senegal’s precious resources.
Ramatoulaye and those around her feel personally invested in the political debates taking place, and the path before them is somewhat fraught. Modou’s skepticism of the embassies illustrates one of the biggest dilemmas facing independent Senegal: modernization seems to demand participation in an increasingly global economy, and yet doing so also seems to come at the expense of internal stability (and often at the expense of Senegal’s unique culture, at least when “globalization” means assimilation into an oppressive Western culture).