Dakar, Senegal -- Visit to the City

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Ile de Goree in the front with the city of Dakar behind.


Ile de Goree - discovered by the Portugese in the 1500's and used as the center for the exportation of slaves to the Americas and West Indies.

May 2, 2005 - While Will went out to Lake Retba, I went on a tour of the city of Dakar. We were really fortunate in our tour guide. He was well educated and talked openly about the issues facing Senegal today. We had a whole sociology lesson - no holds barred.

There are about 10 million in habitants of Senegal which is about the size of North Dakota. 5 million live in Dakar and the population increases with births and people moving to the city at the rate of about 280,000 per year. Needless to say as a 3rd world nation they do not have the infastructure to support the influx.


Mother Senegal - she calls to the children to walk through from the doorway of slavery of the past, through the doorway of slavery of poverty and ignorance, and through the doorway of possibilities.


Sand paintings - these are done with colored sand from all over Senegal.

Senegal is democratic. There are 144 elected to their assembly and there are 14 different parties. Currently the democratic party has the majority having ousted the socialist party in 2000. They are working to fight corruption in the government circles, but as with many things change is slow.

They have 2 universities and the professors are now mostly Senegalese. The teachers in the grade schools have qualifying requirements including a masters or equivalent.


Enterprising sellers of merchandise - women in native garb with babies on their backs. You bargain for a price and then they say "and $1 for the baby".


The stall in the marketplace where I purchased some fabric. Momma was happy to pose for me.

They have good health care, but it has limited availability as they can't pay all the doctors. There is much poverty, but little hunger. It is a country of contradictions.

It is primarily a muslim country, but there is a large catholic contingent. This has kept AIDS in control. Malaria, yellow fever, and cholera are their biggest health issues. There are widespread education efforts underway.

We toured the university, embassy row, the city center, the fish market, the Pasteur Institute, a gallery of handicrafts, and of course the requisite shopping opportunity.


Horse drawn carts - you see them everywhere, not just in the outskirts of town.


Colorful buses and vans carrying more than it would seem possible operate to move people and stuff around the city.

We had 40 minutes in the "Handicraft Village" - a series of about 100 booths with a variety of objects for purchase. Yes these people (or their families) were making the objects, but they were aimed at the tourist. The fabrics, for example, were not the same as the ones the people were wearing. There were lots of carved wood objects, woven goods, leather, and jewelry. You had to bargain and they were VERY pushy about trying to get you to purchase stuff. At least they didn't beg which is what we encountered elsewhere.

The 2 ladies I toured with outside the Presidential Palace with one of the "red guards".


The street outside the Palace - a beautiful green square, modern street with taxis and new buses. The lady was one of our tour guides.

We also had lots of merchants come to the dockside. In the afternoon, Will and I took a stroll to see what was being offered for sale. Don't know if we got a really good deal on anything, but we did purchase a couple items; including a caftan for me (see More On Board).

It was a fascinating day - all in all.

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All text and photos copyright Robin Berry and William Ringer 2005.