The village of Ndiobène is found just outside the city of Thiès, the second largest city in Senegal, and 70 kilometres from Dakar. It is a picturesque village surrounded by Baobab and Mango trees. I spent a weekend there so I could understand a little more about village life and also practice the Wolof language I had been learning whilst in Dakar.
The trip was arranged by my Wolof teacher who said the family had once hosted a foreign student several years ago, but I was a little apprehensive on my arrival. I took gifts for the family, but the men, women and children clearly weren't expecting anything from the visit, welcoming me into their family out of the kindness of their hearts. I needn't have been apprehensive at all as I had an incredible time. The family I stayed with were actually a Sereer family, but kindly spoke Wolof with me as that was our lingua franca. The village was so tranquil, I met just about everyone there and was able to practice my lengthy Wolof greetings with them, promising I would learn Sereer next time I came! I ate couscous with the family and drank ataya with the youngsters as the sun went down. I was incredibly sad to leave, but still keep in touch, of course!
The village was so beautiful. The small huts are used for storing the cooking equipment and there is another open hut used for shade when sitting outside chatting, relaxing, sewing etc. Animals also wandered freely outdoors - chickens, goats, horses...
|The family spends most of its time outdoors, but sleeps in a concrete building with several different bedrooms shared by different members of the family.|
Whilst the village didn't have running water or electricity, Abdou would charge his laptop up at the University so he could work in the village in the evenings and at weekends. The village didn't suffer for its lack of technology, and it always amazed me how, anywhere you were in Senegal, you could always get a great mobile phone signal.
|Working in the fields. Everywhere I went, people wanted me to take their photo, so on my return I sent them a big package full of all the photos I had taken during my visit.|
|Sharing couscous with beef for lunch. Once you had had enough you could just get up and leave, but having eaten with a few Dakar families by this point, I knew that as the visitor I had to eat lots and lots and be the last to finish. It was only polite! They were kind enough to give me a bench and a spoon as the visitor, but I would have been quite happy sitting on the floor, using my hands.||Pulling water from the village well. The women would head down to the well in the morning to collect water for the day and carry the heavy buckets quite comfortably home on their heads.|
|Sat relaxing with some of the children. What a fabulous way to grow up - chatting in the open air instead of inside watching television, doing arts and crafts rather than playing computer games! One of the sources of income for the village was actually woven baskets, three of which they gave me before leaving the village.||Cooking the traditional Sereer meal of couscous. The women make several pots together and take them to different sections of the family in various areas of the village.|
|It is always the young men who make the ataya (Senegalese tea). Ataya is a black tea made with mint and lots of sugar, brewed over a small burner. Once the tea is ready it is poured from glass to glass over and over until a froth appears on the top and it is ready to drink. Water is then added to the pot, and the process is repeated, usually three times in total, with the tea becoming a little weaker each time.||The village is very proud of its brand new mosque, one of the prettiest I saw whilst in Senegal.|
“Many scholars agree that the line separating song and poetry is an artificial one” (Larrier 16)