Friday, March 23, 2012

Lutte! Traditional Wrestling in Senegal

As part of our trip to Toubacouta we also got to see a traditional lutte (wrestling) match!  Lutte may be my new favorite sport.  There are two main types of lutte-lutte with hitting and lutte without hitting.  There are a lot of preparations that the men go through before the matches in order to protect themselves during the fight.  As you can see from the photo, the clothing worn in a lutte match is quite minimal.  My host brother in Toubacouta explained to me that a lot of the preparations are done to make you less vulnerable both to your opponent and to the audience members.  My over-simplified explanation of it is that when you are so exposed it's easier for people's intentions to have an adverse effect on you. There is also always a drumming ensemble at the matches and the lutters awaiting their turn do a number of different dances around the sidelines in anticipation.  We got up to join in some of these dances.  To our surprise, our African Literature professor suddenly appeared during one of these dances as well.  He turns up in some of the strangest places!

My toubacouta host brother won the regional lutte match that was held the previous year so he was a pretty big deal for the family and the village.  On our last night there some of the other students and I walked to our second lute match to see him fight.  We didn't stay to see the end, but he was doing well in the rounds that we saw!

The photo below is from the first match that we saw (clearly a lightweight division).

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