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20 May 2019 / leggypeggy

Village walks always reward

Sacred tree, Senegal, Abéné

A group of friends/colleagues pose at the sacred tree

Sacred tree, Senegal, Abéné

A six-in-one tree

Regular readers of this blog will know how much I love going to markets. So I was delighted when our stay at The Little Boabab in Abéné included a village walk. It would give us a chance to explore the local craft and food markets, and to visit the community’s amazing sacred tree.

We set out early in the morning with our guide, Saikou. Saikou is from The Gambia, but he has lived and worked in the Casamance (southern) region of Senegal for about five years. His English is great (The Gambia is English-speaking) and he knows Abéné well.

Welcome to craft market

Welcome to craft market

Welcome to craft market

Market welcome with the sacred tree

Beaded statue

Beaded statue

Our first stop was the craft market. Because we arrived quite early in the morning only a few shops were open, but it was great to see the range of carvings, including plenty of masks. I’m not all that keen on masks. I love seeing them used in dance performances and other ceremonies, but I don’t need to see them hanging on my walls. Not sure where that attitude has come from.

The actual food market was next. It was a special treat to visit with Saikou because he let us know that photos would be okay. This was a welcome change. The further north we have travelled in West Africa, the less likely people have been to be pleased to have their photos taken. You can’t imagine how many photos have been captured in my mind’s eye, but not on camera. Darn.

Abéné market Abéné market Abéné market

 

The final stop was at Abéné’s Bantam Wora, or sacred tree. It’s actually six huge kapok or cotton (fromager) trees that have fused together.

People in the Casamance believe fromagers are sacred. They are thought to be possessed by a genie that can bring good fortune if offered kola nuts, biscuits, milk, bread or other delicacies. For example, women with fertility problems or young men wishing to win an upcoming football match will go and make an offering.

Before arriving, we were told that we would have to make a financial offering to the women who spend their days around the tree. We dithered about that at first. Senegal has huge paper money notes, and none of us really knew how to contribute. Luckily Adam, one of our drivers, was with us and offered a blanket donation.

The tree is ginormous. It could easily be six, eight or 10 trees fused together. A youth group (maybe university students) was there when we arrived.  A group shot of them shows just how large the base of the tree is. 

Taga (left) and Saikou

Taga (left) and Saikou

Abéné market Abéné laundry

 

63 Comments

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  1. ralietravels / May 20 2019 10:38 pm

    Like you, I find the masks interesting but don’t want one. In 1967, Alie brought me back a carving of a giraffe and calf undoubtedly made for the tourist market but well done, and I loved it. We still have it.
    Curiously, she once saw a photo of the real thing in an identical pose and bought it from the newspaper that published it. For a while, people thought she was collecting giraffe sculptures, pictures etc. and began to give them to her — some were really ugly — until she firmly told them she was not collecting the things.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / May 21 2019 6:53 am

      Poor John collected carved hippos for a while, but hasn’t seen any special ones in recent years. This trip he looked for a good carving of an African elephant (to go with the Asian one we already have), but none appealed. Guess we’ll have to go again. 🙂

      Like

  2. beetleypete / May 20 2019 10:40 pm

    That’s an amazing tree, Peggy. And the market produce looks pretty good too.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / May 21 2019 6:54 am

      Thanks Pete. The produce was excellent quality and, not surprisingly, seasonal.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Derrick / May 20 2019 10:50 pm

    I have always asked before I take photos of most things, what does annoy me is when they ask for a ridiculous amount as payment (after all they are going to be made famous, god only knows how many people will see them)

    A tree is a tree regardless of how sacred it is, I feel sure many go to the tree asking for a lottery win or some other monetary favour (I wonder how many of them were fulfilled)

    One of the funniest things I have seen was Tim taking photos with his huge camera, he never asked, people gathered and started throwing rotten fruit at him, he legged it with the crowd in hot pursuit, I was standing with a lady at her fruit stall (she gave me a banana and posed in front of her fruit stall)

    I asked them about taking pictures, they said they didn’t mind, they just would like to be asked (now that I can understand, who wants a camera jammed in their face)

    I like the kapok tree, I filled a pillow case with stuff, it was comfy, light and sustainable (I felt so green that day😄)

    Seems like you are still enjoying the trip

    I can remember a woman standing in front of her washing line proudly showing off her mornings work (she then told me that my clothes need washing and she could do it for me)

    If they did refuse I just took pictures of their produce (sometimes they wanted to be seen as the owners of it )

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / May 21 2019 6:58 am

      I always ask if I think the person can be identified in the photo. Otherwise I don’t worry. I have seen people get very angry about being photographed—not towards me, but towards others who have been inconsiderate. Muslims often believe that if you photograph their face, you steal their soul. Makes it important to ask.

      In markets I do the same as you. If they don’t want their photo taken, I ask if I can photograph the produce and then show them the pic I have taken.

      Like

  4. derrickjknight / May 20 2019 11:05 pm

    A colourful event well photographed

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Lynette d'Arty-Cross / May 21 2019 12:35 am

    Wow! That tree is the tree of trees (trees of trees?). I haven’t been to Africa in years but your photos evoke strong memories of it. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / May 21 2019 6:59 am

      You are most welcome. Africa is so photogenic. Hard to take a bad picture.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. susan@onesmallwalk / May 21 2019 12:38 am

    LeggyPeggy – Great market, such colorful displays. But it was the laundry in the breeze that makes me want to visit 😉 – Susan

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / May 21 2019 7:00 am

      I especially love taking pics of laundry. Stay tuned for a whole post (or two or three) on laundry.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Sy S. / May 21 2019 12:40 am

    The group photo is great, the people are all smiling and nicely dressed! Saikou is wearing cool jeans even with a cut slit on the left pant leg. And the market place has a nice display of foods and very clean looking.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / May 21 2019 7:04 am

      I was pleased that the group wanted to be photographed. So much colour and so many smiles.

      Like

  8. fragglerocking / May 21 2019 2:33 am

    Love the tree!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Gilda Baxter / May 21 2019 2:53 am

    I love markets, this is a very colourful one. Glad you were able to capture some good shots with your camera

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / May 21 2019 7:05 am

      It was wonderful to be able to photograph quite freely. A few people didn’t want to be pictured, but most said yes.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. macalder02 / May 21 2019 6:11 am

    Each of the photos show how well you are doing in that village in order to document the life and work of that people. A fascinating work to be involved with people and their customs. Good for you and your adventure.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / May 21 2019 7:06 am

      Thanks so much. I see Africa changing, but many markets remain very much the same.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Norbert Haupt / May 21 2019 8:27 am

    I always love to see African art and all the colors.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Popping Wheelies / May 21 2019 10:16 am

    This is a very nice market. The produce looks great! As for pictures, I always ask in a situation like this. I would expect no less of someone wanting my picture. We have found that people are nice if common courtesy is used.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Alison and Don / May 21 2019 11:54 am

    Love your photos of the people. And that tree is something else!
    Alison

    Liked by 3 people

  14. gerard oosterman / May 21 2019 2:08 pm

    Great photos, Peggy. Why does everything in Africa look so colourful? Is it a reflection of their spirits or souls?
    I took a photo of a local crowd in Australia once and people looked camouflaged, almost like a background.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / May 21 2019 2:21 pm

      The colour in Africa is fabulous. I wish I could capture it all, but that’s impossible. Stay tuned for more splashes of colour.

      Like

  15. efge63 / May 21 2019 4:11 pm

    I enjoyed this post tremendously — the story and, of course, the gorgeous photos.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. thewonderer86 / May 21 2019 4:23 pm

    Great post. In your first ‘market’ photo the lady’s produce is almost as colourful as she is. Lots of natural bling. Love it!

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / May 21 2019 5:53 pm

      When I started to take her picture, she put her hand up for me to wait. Then she picked up the eggplant.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Jolandi Steven / May 21 2019 5:12 pm

    Absolutely love the sacred tree, Peggy. I can completely understand why they would believe it is inhabited by a genie.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / May 21 2019 6:04 pm

      It certainly has a magical feel to it. Very glad we could visit it.

      Like

  18. Emma Cownie / May 21 2019 5:36 pm

    So vibrant and colourful. The people look delightful, glad the taxi driver was able to help with deciding the right amount for a donation.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / May 21 2019 10:23 pm

      Glad you like the images. You have so much flair with colour.

      Like

  19. weggieboy / May 21 2019 6:05 pm

    That sort of market is lots of fun to take in slowly! Thanks for another entertaining, interesting post,
    Peggy! Whether travels or kitchen treats, your blogs are the most fun of those I follow.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / May 21 2019 6:18 pm

      Thanks so much. Really appreciate your comment and delighted that you enjoy both blogs. I need to get another recipe posted.

      Like

      • weggieboy / May 22 2019 4:30 pm

        You inspired me to post a food post today – asparagus on wheat toast, my favorite. Of course, I mostly took a photo of my latest effort and barely told how I got from raw ingredients to a meal, but it is a simple thing to do.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / May 22 2019 5:20 pm

        I love asparagus too. The dish looks divine.

        Like

  20. Daniela - the Lady behind the Bird / May 22 2019 12:58 am

    Oh, how I can relate to all the images that I took in my mind but not with a camera… But I am also glad that we respect people’s choice to rather not be photographed. I would want people to ask me first before just pushing that button. The market looks very organised and calm. I just returned from another visit to Uganda and sometimes felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of people everywhere. Thanks for sharing your stories, I enjoy them very much when I am online.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / May 22 2019 7:31 am

      This market was calm compared to many others we have visited, so I know what you mean about feeling overwhelmed sometimes. Glad you stop by when you can. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Phil Huston / May 22 2019 4:03 am

    Ain’t nobody in Africa afraid of wild prints or color! The LA pop music crowd would do well to visit with their costume designers.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / May 22 2019 7:11 am

      I’m glad your comments arrive in the middle of my night. Means a bright start to my day. Have a decent internet connection today, so off to see what you’ve been up to.

      Like

  22. Sheryl / May 23 2019 1:02 pm

    Beautiful photos – The Casamance is such an interesting area. I haven’t heard much about it in years, but this post makes me want research the current situation there.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / May 23 2019 5:21 pm

      Thankfully the Casamance is peaceful these days and free of ebola.

      Like

      • Sheryl / May 23 2019 8:18 pm

        That is good to hear. It is such a wonderful area.

        Liked by 1 person

  23. Chris Riley / May 23 2019 2:30 pm

    That would have to be about the best tree photo I’ve ever seen. The colour of the market are so vibrant. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / May 23 2019 5:22 pm

      It’s such a magnificent tree. So glad we could visit it and glad you enjoyed it too.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. pvcann / May 23 2019 9:48 pm

    That is some tree, the girth is substantial. Would love to visit that market place, so interesting. What stands out Peggy is the human connection and the integrity of interaction.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / May 23 2019 11:01 pm

      Markets are full of life and warmth. I’d love to spend hours (and plenty of money) in the markets of Africa.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Sharon Bonin-Pratt / May 24 2019 1:41 am

    That tree – no wonder it’s considered sacred. But what a difference between women and men. Men pray for a sports win. Women pray for pregnancy. Interesting that people are shy about having photos taken, and then I note in one of your photos, tourists with their cell phones, obviously taking pictures. I’d get weary of being seen as an object – maybe the key is first trying to make a friendship. Love all these adventure you share so generously.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / May 24 2019 8:06 am

      Glad you enjoy the adventures. This day, we were the only tourists in Abéné. Saikou told all of us that we could take pictures of people provided, of course, that we asked first. So everyone you see here snapping pics is part of our group.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. chattykerry / May 27 2019 5:29 am

    What a wonderful tree! Your photographs are so sharp and lively.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Sherry Thomas / May 27 2019 9:12 am

    Just checking in with you! Would you recommend this company. Anyway let’s talk for sure when you get home!
    Love
    S

    Sent from my iPad

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / May 27 2019 10:12 am

      Yes, we’ve been pleased, although I prefer a truck with seats facing in and better storage. Home soon.

      Like

  28. Ted / Jun 5 2019 1:12 am

    Living in England, where it’s normally wet and cold, I appreciate the “outdoorness” of all this you’ve shared. Trees are often amazing and that one doesn’t let the side Down.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. jeanleesworld / Jun 21 2019 8:12 pm

    There’s just so much color in these shots! And vivid interactions with loving life. Thank you for taking us on this journey!

    Liked by 1 person

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