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Journals from Senegal: Francophone African Studies Minor

2013-11-23 Weekend in Sokone

A little bit of backstory- I am the only one from Linfield studying here in Senegal this year, but I am here with some students from Kalamazoo College who are in some of the photos I will be/have posted. This is a picture from an outing with the Kalamazoo College students to a town called Sokone near Gambia.

Our trip to Sokone started on Thursday with a six (ish) hour drive by bus on some really rough roads. Just outside of Dakar you start seeing baobab trees and other natural wildlife. By the time you pass Kawlack you are really starting to get into the "middle of nowhere" feel. Once we got to our encampment we ate some ceebu-jën and headed out to see a melange tradition and modernity at an organization run by women. They make packets of bissap (a type of hibiscus that is made into juice-it's delicious you should try it if you ever get the chance), millet and other local products and package them to sell in surrounding areas. After that the group went to the home of a family who makes clay pottery and even got to make our own pots to bring home! Let me just tell you that these women make it look easy, they whip out clay pots like nobody's business and with manual wheel. We then went to an area that is currently being replanted with mangroves. In the past, mangrove limbs were cut for the oysters that grow on them. This lead to rampant deforestation in the area and a cooperative is working on replanting them and using more sustainable oyster harvesting methods. Upon our return to the encampment, we ate and participated in a traditional African soiree which consisted of several hours of dancing like crazy people to griots who played their sabars which are Senegalese drums that are a bit like the Djembe.

The next day we ventured out into the bush a bit and went to an island, swam, kayaked and in general really enjoyed being out in nature without internet or cell phone connection. On our return by boat we passed by les îles des oiseaux (the islands of the birds) which is an island of mangroves that the local population of birds goes to every night. That day we got back to camp ate then went to bed so that we could have an early breakfast and departure from Sokone. 

By: Kathleen Greaver

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