Senegal, Africa is divided into 14 regions, which are broken down into 45 departments, branching to 103 subdivisions, and several ethnicities. The term “African” should not be used loosely as a generalized term to identify people who are born or live on the continent. During my two week visit, I was able to visit 5 regions, plus the small country of The Gambia. Spending a day connected with nature provided a catharsis after the emotional day at Gorée Island.
Market in Nguéniène
Our day began with a trip to the Marché hebdomadaire de Nguéniène, or Market of Nguéniène. I have also seen it referred to as the Sine Saloum Market. This weekly gathering is similar to what American’s call a “Farmers Market.” The location in the Thiès Region is very remote and if it were not for my Garmin watch, I would not know the location.
The markets are very common and occur in every small village. The main mode of transportation are horse driven carts. Everything from fresh produce, livestock, and textiles are for sale or trade. I witnessed fabrics being sewn on the spot for custom orders. The social interaction is a major part of the market days.
There was an understandably mixed reception of me being an outsider taking photos and recording videos. Those images have been intentionally left out of this summary or cropped. It was explained to me that some are leary of journalists who go to their village taking photos, and profit off the publications.
On the other hand, there were some people who wanted their photo taken as a trade off for purchasing their items. Language was a barrier with most people associated with the Serer ethnic group speaking Wolof as their first language.
Most of the Serer people are muslim. They celebrate a holiday called Eid al-Adha to acknowledge when Abraham was going to sacrifice his son to God. My first question was why are Muslims using a Christian example to celebrate? It was interesting to learn that Muslims recognize Abraham as a prophet.
Bird Islands Fatick, Senegal
We went farther south to the Fatick Region that is home to Bird Islands and the Delta Saloum National Park.
The Restaurant Les Piroguiers was a nice open-air restaurant near the water. This area is usually very busy, so the merchants were happy to see us. We sipped apéritifs and enjoyed the social interactions while our meals were prepared.
One of the merchants arranged a pirogue excursion for us. It was so relaxing to have that feeling like you are gliding on top of the water. A combination of land and sea make this area one of the richest ecosystems in West Africa.
There are a lot of boats used for fishing and to transport people to different islands. The boaters are so intelligent to know how to get around. The archipelago consists of about 200 islands through mangroves, palm trees and baobabs.
God’s layout of this region is unique because the Serers have been able to protect their culture from European invasion due to their uncertainty of how to cross from island to island.
The Sacred Baobab was given its name for having a circumference of 32 meters, making it the largest baobab in Senegal. The friendly host of the site took his time while giving me an overview of how it took 850 years to reach this size.
Senegalese scientist and historian, Cheikh Anta Diop, developed the technique of carbon 14 dating. Diop’s research proved the amount of melanin in Egyptian mummies matched those of Africans today. His work was discredited at the time, but after his death his lab was raided only for his work to be stolen. I am currently reading one of his books called, The African Origin of Civilization to gain a better understanding of his research.
Baobabs are technically classified as plants although they have the visual characteristic of a tree. The Colonel at Gorée Island let me feel how fibrous the wood is.
The porous wood is not used for building. The baobabs have many uses. Not only are they gathering spots for relief from the sun, baobabs have medicinal value. One of the most common is the use of the leaves for a tonic to relieve stomach issues.
The Baobab Sacré teacher asked if I wanted to go inside. I was caught off guard because I didn’t think it was possible. He told me to touch the “tree” with my left hand, and make a wish for good luck. I was thinking about the tradition at Showtime at the Apollo as I made my wish.
After the excitement of being inside Senegal’s largest Baobab, I purchased some carved wooden masks from a vendor. I know they rely on visitors to make a living off their talents.
Akon City is in the beginning stages of an ultra modern design plan. We passed the construction site for the corporate offices during our day trip. It is in a very rural area of Nianing, along the Mbour-Joal route.
We pulled over to find out that Akon would be on site to check the progress of his project. A small crowd gathered with anticipation of his arrival. I just knew Akon was there based on a luxury SUV that was parked, but it wasn’t him. I love that Akon is giving back to his homeland.
Not too far from Akon City is the unique architecture of the Epiphany Church of the Lord Nianing. It is designed after the termite mounds that have a chimney like feature to release hot air.
We were on the go everyday except for Christmas. This two weeks vacation scratched the surface of what Senegal has to offer. Saint Louis and some of the islands off the coast of Senegal are on my wish list, along with the neighboring countries of Guinea-Bissau and Mauritania.
*All of my content is protected by copyright. Please ask permission for use for any of my photos. These images are solely for informational/educational purposes and not for sale.*
Kelsie L. Smoot
Look at those blooming bougainvilleas!!
The boabab trees are so cool to look at. Thank you for your pictures.
Thank you for identifying the name of the flowers! They are in abundance over there. Such a beautiful country that is often misrepresented.🌺🏵🌸
LikeLiked by 1 person
That was very easy to do as they are my favorites. Yes, Senegal looks beautiful; the lush vegetation is appealing. Unfortunately, most African countries are misrepresented.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Kelsie Lou, what an incredible trip you had!!! Such a beautiful area and the fabrics are stunning! Thank you for sharing and I’m glad you found me. Please stop by Share Your Style this next week (Wednesdays, 6:00pm CST), if you would to share your post. It’d be nice to feature you post. I was awed by the history of the Slavery Museum you visited and shared about on IG, too. Each year I read as many stories as I can find about African-Americans to the children I work with at school. I think it is very important to know our ancestry and who our peoples are, even if I am not one myself. ❤
I think of all the children I've met at school and other friends affected within their family ancestry by slavery… I hope that time and DNA will help you and other women and men of color to find their family connections… ❤ I pinned several of your photographs to my Road Trip, Plane Trip (Travel) board and other board for you. 🙂
Blessings to you,
French Ethereal blog
Thank you for inviting me to your blog share. I would love to share the insights I gained from my trip. I can try to arrange for my boyfriend to participate. He’s like a walking encyclopedia from being the son of a diplomat between Senegal and Belgium, plus his own life experiences. The Colonel was adamant about this information being shared. I applaud you for wanting to learn and share also.
Blessings in return to you!
p.s. The baobab trees remind me of the great banyan trees we had in Kapiolani Park, on Oahu, Hawaii as a child! They were super shady and you could play in between the tall upright roots making “rooms” out of them. Also, are you sure that the man standing center in the construction picture at Akon City isn’t Akon? I had to look him up as I am not familiar with him or his work, but it sure looks like him!
I just looked up the Banyan tree and they are beautiful!!
I’m sure Akon was not on the site. There was a small crowd waiting for him.
These are lovely and inviting photos! 🥰
Senegal is such a beautiful country.😍
LikeLiked by 1 person
Amazing photos Kelsie!
Looks like you saw and learned so much from your trip to Senegal! I wonder when you touched the Baobab “tree” and you said it reminded you of “The Apollo” if they got that tradition from there? 💛
Hey Myia! I am still learning about African culture. I was up last night watching documentaries about the horrific colonization of Congo. Check this out when you get a chance:
As for the Apollo tree stump, I couldn’t find any information that links the tradition to the baobab. With NYC being so diverse, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was an African person or someone influenced by African culture who came up with the idea. 💛
I’m jealous, been talking about going to live there for 3yrs now. Happy Birthday
It’s a beautiful life there!
Thank you! Happy belated birthday to you.
I have more photos on Instagram: