John Steinbeck once wrote that “People don’t take trips… trips take people.” The last few days of our adventure in Senegal prove exactly that. Our epic journey started before dawn on Wednesday morning in Tambacounda, the dusty crossroads city just north of Niognani. We traveled around The Gambia to Kaffrine, where we took the turn towards Touba, our lunchtime stop.
In Touba, we toured the famous mosque of the Mourides. We marveled at the towering minarets, walked along the rows of carpets set aside for the more than 10,000 people that pray their each Friday and the 4 million who come each year for the major pilgrimage to the tomb of Amadou Bamba. We walked through the aisles of books written by Bamba. Everywhere we looked, his legacy surrounded us. That legacy is sadly absent from most history classes and the general understanding of African history promoted by Europe and the West. I am so proud to have exposed our students to Cheikh Amadou Bamba’s ideas, influence, and unique story. I suggest you all do some reading!
After our stop in Touba, we drove two more hours to Louga, birthplace of Khoudia Diagne. It has been so fun to travel throughout Senegal with Khoudia and it was particularly poignant to feel Khoudia’s excitement as we approached her ancestral home. Louga is another major crossroads town famous for its industrious people and role in Senegalese history as the throne of various kingdoms.
Of course, we didn’t go to Louga for its history. We went to meet Khoudia’s family and to really get a feel for where she is from. And boy did we! From the moment we entered Khoudia’s neighborhood, we were treated like royalty. We were fed more than a human could ever eat, shown so many interesting things, and generally welcomed like family members into Khoudia’s home. It was amazing. So amazing that all we did that day and the next half of a day was be with Khoudia’s family.
And after lunch today, we made our way to the SEED Academy, where we saw dozens of unique athletes play basketball, got to meet the founder of the whole program, and spoke with a group of Khoudia’s friends. It was a wonderful stop.
There is so much more to share and we will soon have more posts from students. But I want to make sure you all knew that it was indeed a whirlwind of incredible people and places that kept us from updating more actively. This really has in so many ways taken us and relied on the people of Senegal.
On est ensemble indeed!