The Superbowl from West Africa: How Television Works Here…


This past week was the holy of all holy American holidays: the Super Bowl. Our West African location meant no sacrilege in missing out on the event; in fact, it’s been pretty easy to keep up with American shows, sporting events, etc. since we came here.

A caveat: those living in more remote parts of Senegal or volunteering in places without amenities will have a totally different view on accessing American entertainment abroad. We’re lucky enough to have resources at our disposal that allow us to focus on the really important things in life, like catching the latest episodes of Jeopardy! and watching games featuring two teams neither of us care about. (That was sarcasm, in case you missed it.)

In truth, I do like being able to keep up with a few favorite shows, some of the latest movies, etc. I can’t have McDonald’s or White Castle, I can opt to stay Americanized through mindless entertainment. Here are some ways people in Dakar get their watch on:

  • Armed Forces Network. We watched the Super Bowl on AFN last night (kickoff was at 11:30 p.m. Dakar time – ouch!). You can buy a satellite dish for AFN and it features much of the same content as a regular dish company. The only downside? The network has its own commercials. No Super Bowl ads for us!
  • CanalPlus. French-only network that some of our friends have. Has some American shows in French.
  • Amazon Prime. We use Amazon all the time (one friend joked that she just hits the “select all” button when making purchases, heh), so paying a yearly fee that includes free shipping and on-demand shows and movies is totally worth it.
  • Netflix. Frankly, I want to cancel our online-only Netflix service. Lots of straight-to-DVD movies featuring thespians such as Jenny McCarthy and Pauly Shore. However, the DVD mailing service is an option (yes, to Africa), though the discs take a couple weeks to arrive.
  • Hard drives full o’ shows. People download things or copy DVDs to a hard drive and bam! It gets passed around our little expat community for all to copy-and-paste and enjoy.
  • Torrents. Several sites feature downloadable TV shows and movies. Good way to keep up with recent stuff.
  • Sports packages. Josh and I would die without (go Braves) and NFL Game Pass (go Browns). I stayed up until the wee hours to watch every single game of the Braves’ epic late-season collapse last year. And although my tender heart was broken by our performance, it was still awesome to be able to see my team.

So that’s our TV life in a nutshell. Now back to our regularly scheduled blog programming.

Rachael Cullins
Rachael Cullins is a twentysomething American girl living in Dakar, Senegal, with her husband and two dogs. She blogs about her adventures in Senegal and travels elsewhere in West Africa. She will reside in Dakar until summer 2013, when she and her family will move to another foreign post as part of her husband's career with the U.S. government. In addition to West Africa, she has traveled to France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Italy and Costa Rica and plans to continually add to that list.
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