Welcome to Dakar, Senegal
We touched down in Dakar on Tuesday night and on Wednesday morning went straight to the Tostan office in Ouest Foire. Greetings in Senegal are vitally important so Tostan volunteer Kyrra took us around and introduced us to the whole office – from reception in the entrance up to the third floor where Awa the cook was already preparing a delicious lunch. Having flown from chilly, damp Europe it was a real treat to be in the dry, warm wind of Dakar, overlooking the suburbs and the busy highway with its many yellow and black taxis. We launched swiftly into a Wolof lesson from Tostan volunteer Alisa, whose language skills were really impressive, and thanks to her teaching we were able to press our newly-learned Wolof greetings into use at the first opportunity. We heard from the Guinea-Bissau Co-ordinator and Volunteer who told us about the progress being made in the country, with 39 communities participating in the community empowerment programme, there’s about 120 villages who are ready to declare their abandonment of FGC – the only thing holding the process up being the recent coup. We also heard about the community-led Social Protection Project, a module which builds on the CEP and aims to better protect children and their rights, preserving them from harm.
The next day, meetings with the newly-created grants team, the director of monitoring, evaluation, research and learning as well as a presentation about Tostan’s new Peace and Security programme, we felt even more clued up about the excellent work our partner is doing in the field – and had eaten truly delicious, typically Senegalese food on the rooftop.
On Friday we met up with Sister Fa, Orchid Project partner and Senegalese superstar, here for the third round of her Education sans Excision (education without cutting) tour, which Orchid is proud to support. After meeting band members, brothers, DJs and photographers we headed down to the studios of WalfTV, where Sister Fa was interviewed by DJ Sega to talk about the tour, her music and to promote tonight’s concert in Ouakam, a suburb of Dakar.
Sister Fa talks to a ‘Dakar flyboy’ on WalfTV
In the interview Sister Fa explained to DJ Sega that her sound has moved on a bit, and while she is still a hip-hop star at heart the music she plays these days is a little more melodic, infused with Jazz. She talked about the different types of music in Senegal and Europe, and explained about the project. Sister Fa’s message? It starts with the music, one of the best ways to spread the message of human rights.
Sister Fa also talked about the work she’s doing with other musicians and artists in this region, referencing the Day of Reflection she organised and held in Dakar in January of this year – also supported by Orchid Project. She finished off the interview with an ad-libbed rap!
Saturday morning television
This morning Sister Fa was appearing on ‘Ca me-di Mag’ a Saturday morning debate show, filmed in Dakar and watched very widely, both in Senegal, and West Africa, and around the world on satellite and internet TV. We were lucky enough to go along and watch the filming. It was a real success for Sister Fa to be on the show, given its wide audience, and a great chance for her to raise awareness here in Senegal about the project she’s undertaking.
Sister Fa appeared alongside another guest, Ndioua Dieng, a very famous singer with the band Baobab, and the discussion between the two guests and their host centred around the us of music as a tool for communication, something which both artists hold dear. In Senegal, music has traditionally been used for spreading messages and telling stories, but both guests felt that this has been lost recently, especially in the hip-hop tradition. Both the other host and his guest agreed that Sister Fa’s project is vital, and that human rights and female genital cutting in particular are issues that need to be addressed. Sister Fa said: “I am just adding my voice to what other people are doing”