Monday, March 26, 2012

Na Dem! Na Dem!

There is (unofficially) a new President of Senegal!  They haven't released the official numbers yet but if you calculated the votes reported by all of the individual bureaus it is easy to see the landslide victory that Macky Sall won over our dear President Wade.  Even though the Constitutional Council hasn't officially released the restults yet, Wade has admitted his loss and the transition of power has begun.  Last night as the votes were rolling in, my excited host brother and sister and I ran out into the streets and bought sandwiches to celebrate!  My cartier was not super lively due to the number of Wade supporters living there but once we got on to the main roads we could see plenty of celebrations.  A good amout of noise, singing, and car horns continued long into the night.  There was also a big party outside Macky Sall's house which I unfortunately did not get the chance to partake in due to an Islam exam this morning.

Things are looking good for Senegal today!

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).

Toubacouta Recap

A few weekends back we had the wonderful opportunity to visit the village of Toubacouta.  During that time we spent a day with hostfamilies, cooking and learning a bit about rural life in Senegal.  I stayed with the Diattas and was welcomed wonderfully.  Myself, my host mother, and host sister cooked the two family meals (yassa and ceeb u jen) in an enclosed hut behind the family houses.  My job mostly involved cutting onions (soble in Wolof).  The onions coupled with the smoke in the enclosed space meant that I was essentially crying for two hours, to the amusement of my family and especially the children.  But, all went well in the end.  The Diattas have a large family and all live together with a cluster of small houses around an open area.  There were also a lot more rules around eating and interacting that I don't normally encounter with my family in Dakar.  For instance, the men and women ate separately as you can see in the photo below:

In order to be polite I had to finish this bowl of ceeb u jen, which was quite the task!  When you are a guest like I was that weekend, it is a matter of pride to send you home feeling quite full.  If you went home hungry, it would mean that the family did not do a good job of taking care of you.

Monday, March 5, 2012

trip to Toubacouta!

This weekend we went on a trip to Toubacouta, a small village just north of the Gambia.  It was a nice change from the bustling city of Dakar...A longer post on this to come later...