Sunday, 10 February 2013

Senegal: Religiosity versus Superstition and Travel experience

One thing that struck you when you arrived in Senegal is the open and public display of religiosity and Godliness. Islamic identity in the Africanised adaptation is the inherent identity of the middle to older men in Senegal. Islam is a universal religion which is practiced by over 1.5billion people in the world.
The Senegalese takes their Sufi Islam seriously and they are public about it. It is very attractive overall the way the Mourids Africanise Islam. They take pride in being Muslim and Black.
The powers vested in the Sufi Tariqas is enormous. The different sects of the religious houses has their own domain of control. There are problematic angst to the religious brotherhood, the fact that, some of them allow very young children to beg for them. This was a sight i detest very much. Upon enquiringly as to why, such thing is allowed amidst the smooth running of the state, it is mention, the powerful 'Serign' revolted and the ban on 'Almudous' didn't last long.
What troubled me as a Muslim was the fact that, pictures of Saints acts as decorations and reminders everywhere. In shops, in offices, in taxis, private cars, in Taylor workshops, carpentry workshop, in gardens, hanging on people's necks, just everywhere. Amean, vast amount of people know more about the 'Serigns' Saints than, about Muhammad' the prophet of Islam.
My observation on the photos of holy men is that, these 'Serigns' saints provide very photogenic postures for the photographers who sell this images to the ardent followers.

The Mourids are said to be very powerful in Senegal, so powerful that, some attribute them to be having a union that boast of having very influential Senegalese as members. This 'Mourid' club is said to be behind many big businesses, powerful politicians and successful people in Senegal. I visited Professor Khadim Mbacke on the dominance and influence of the Mourids, but sadly he wasn't keen on discussing them. I sensed, the fear of offending the powerful brotherhood could be the reason. I attempted to create conversation about them, but not many want to talk about them realistically.
I happen to record some backgrounds on the brotherhood, which will serve my research interest. Man selling Chicken




The followers of Malick Sey, Bai Nyassi, Buu Kunta, Amadou Taal etc all belong the wider club of Talibes who follow them diligently.
The competition in the call to morning prayers is fascinating experience. Even though Fajr (early morning) Muslim prayers happen round about 06:45am, the Muashim (callers to prayer) commence the call at 04.30am. I learnt that, this is all because some people give offering to those who make the call to prayer sooner that the others.
The superstition seen in Senegal is extra-ordinary. There're birds held in cages, young men travel around selling this birds to people who frees them. If you free a bird from a cage, you release it but not before mention your wishes on the bird. I have never seen such superstition anywhere.
The believe in Marabouts ( spiritual doctors) is at higher level in Senegal than the Gambia. And Senegalese are willing to pay huge amounts for the work of the marabouts. The wrestling tradition is very rich, but also filled with superstition at an unprecedented level. This trend doesn't show any sign diminishing.
My passionate journey to Senegal also involves getting to comprehend the legacy of the Mbaay Faals...A subject I will deal with later.
As a cultural enthusiast and commentator, Senegal is a fertile ground for studying the contrasting existence of traditional values and modernity.
I have been to Senegal in the past, but mostly to the Cassamance region. Dakar as a capital is dominated with French style of building and habitat. The developments and advancement happening in Senegal is rapid for those living there. The tenure of Abdoulie Wade is said to have witness many infrastructural development.
However, what generates the growth of foreign industries in Senegal is the mature level of democracy. Dakar can boast of having a high concentration of NGO's, foreign embassies, head quarters of private companies, the U.N agencies etc.
The modern side to Senegals advancement is also the growth of private Senegalese own medical institutions. Health is big business in Africa. Since I'm making simple observations, I will not attached any figures to the opinions here.
Gambians are arriving in Dakar in droves for private medical treatment. The Gambia, it is said lack modern medical equipment needed for vigorous testing for illnesses. I came across very rich Gambians attending rehabilitation and therapy after strokes and other serious illnesses.
This Gambians complain that, they don't trust the Doctors in the Gambia. They claim that, the clinics and private health centres are very far behind in modern treatment. On the other hand, if you can afford the expensive medical bill, Senegal can provide facilities and expertise to cure the ailments.

The ordinary man and woman in Senegal is mostly engaged in some form of petty trade. The vehicles for commercial passenger commerce are usually very old,  dilapidated, but effective in taking people from one place to the other. Corree
I visited Coree, a former slave Island and was struck with intense feeling of anger at what has happen there by the European slave traders. The suffering those people encountered cannot be describe. It most have been horrendous  The dungeon  created for keeping captives who refuse to be enslaved is beyond description. The inhumane minds of those Europeans is beyond animalistic. Even today, the memory of Corree will live with me forever.

Travelling across Senegal was also enjoyable..Some roads are bad, but far better than the Gambia. i find people very helpful in general although the tendency to attempt to cheat is high.
Senegal in short is a paradise for Tourist. Very rich in culture, the people are friendly and open and the food is delicious as well.
There are great views, music and cultural heritage highly unexplored by the wider world. Senegal is a cocktail of many cultures inter-woven producing a hybrid of something beautiful. I will in future relay my Senegal experience. I will go back again for more research and enjoyment.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks for share.