Last week I was visiting the City of Saint Louis in the north coast of Senegal, 4 hours road trip from Dakar. Saint louis What a beautiful city! Saint Louis is both seaside and river side ! The city with fifty shades of blue. The city center is located in Saint Louis Island, which is connected to the rest of the city via the magestic Faidherbe bridge.
But why this name Saint Louis? Yes there is Saint Louis in US in Missouri State, there is Saint Louis in France, There is also Saint Louis in Senegal. Saint Louis is one of the oldest cities, built by the colonists and played a strategic role during the colonial period. The name come from the king of France named Louis IV. In the past Saint louis was the capital city of FWA ( French west Africa) a wide region which cover the following countries : Mauritania, Senegal, the former French Soudan (Mali) , Guinee, Ivory Coast, Niger, the former Dahomey ( Benin) , the former Upper Volta (Burkina Faso) . Saint louis have kept her colonial architecture and is classified as a UNESCO site since 2000.
Saint louis is called Ndar in Wolof. You can’t talk about Ndar without mentionning the following : hospitality (teranga ndar), Ndar, afternoon ( takussanou Ndar), Ndar rice and fish ( Thebou dieunou Ndar) , Ndar women ( Djiguenou Ndar).
Senegal is known for it’s local speciality the rice and fish called Tiebou dieune. Ndar is known to be the place where you will eat the best Tiebou Dieun of the world. The recipe is transmitted from generation to generation. They call it Tiebou Dieune Penda Mbaye, in honor to the woman ( Penda Mbaye from Ndar) who created the recipe.
Ndar woman is said to be beautiful. Her beauty have been described by our greatest poets, writers , singers, artists. She is beautiful, gracious and class. Youssou N’dour dedicated a Popular song to Ndar. He said :
“Ask me what do I preferer in Ndar Guedj (one time)
Ask me we what do I prefer in Ndar Guedj. (Two times)
Ask me what do I prefer in Ndar Guedj (Three times)
The Ndar native (young) is quiet, civilized and like good things, the Ladies are gracious, reserved, and they move with grace like the fowl.
Oh THE Tieb of Ndar!! ( about how delicious it is)”
There is so much to say on Ndar and all the areas along the Senegal river. I realize while writing that it’s a book of so many chapters : geography, history , economy, tourism, women empowerment, agriculture ( rice of the valley and the sugar canes of Richard Toll) …
In this month of march, the #womanhistorymonth, I will skip lot of chapters and let some pictures talk by themselves.
In this month of march , month dedicated to women, I will tell you the story of these brave women. Thank you to my dear Keyna who brought this story during our Saint Louis fire camp 😉.
Let’s leave Saint Louis city and travel deep inside Saint Louis region along the Senegal river valley in the north, near the Guiers Lake, in the city of Nder ( not Ndar). Let’s also travel into the Past.
Have you heard about Talatay Nder ( The Tuesday of Nder) ? The Tuesday of Nder coincide in our calendar with the march 7. It happened during the XIX century, exactly 199 years back.
It was an ordinary Tuesday of march 1820, in a village of Nder in the Waalo (current Saint Louis region ). As usually, a part of the men went to the fields, another went hunting… women staid in the village doing theirs daily activities, with the young and the very old one.
The political situation was unstable. The French troops was settled in Saint Louis. The Waalo was subject to constant raids from the Moors and internal wars. The Moors who came from the north, was fighting and wining the neighborhood territories reducing their populations in slavery . The Brack of Waalo (King) have been wounded in one of these fights and was in Saint Louis city for his cares.
The Moors arrived this Tuesday in Nder through the Guiers Lake. Women were instantly notified of their arrival and they had time to hide children and vulnerable population before the arrival of the Moors.
Our heroic women, dressed up like men to confound their enemy. They took the weapons of their father, brothers, husband and fighted against the Moors . Led by Lingeer ( Queen) Fatim Yamar Khouryaye Mbodj, the courageous women fighted so hard , resisted to the assailant until they finished all their munition . They had advantage on their adversaries ; the legend says that they killed this day more than 300 Moors.
The Defeated Moors started to run away and leave the village, taking the direction of the lake.
Happy, the women started to sing, to remove their costumes and celebrated their victory.
The Moors who was not so far realized that they have been defeated by “just” women and came back to revenge from their shameful defeat. Strengthened by their ego, they attacked defenseless woman who finished their last munitions during the previous fight.
It was now a matter of honor for these women. Women of N’der knew that if they were captured by the Moors, they will be reduced in slavery. They prefered to die free instead of live in slavery.
This Tuesday, Lingeer Fatim Yamar Khouryaye Mbodj, immolated herself in the royal court with several other women : “die free instead of live in slavery”.
The royal legacy have been preserved through Fatim yamar’s daughters Ndjeumbeut and Ndaté Yalla who had the time to run away and hide in Ronkh, a neighborhood city.
Today when you go into the city of Nder in Saint Louis, the legacy of those woman is still there 2 centuries after. Two centuries after, the decendents of these valiant women can tell you the story of this Tuesday as if they were there. They heard it form they parents, who heard it from their parents, who’s parents or grand parents witnessed this black Tuesday. In fact, the legend says that among these women ONE stayed alive to tell the story to their father, brothers, husband, uncles, cousins….
In this month of march, the #womanhistorymonth , let’s celebrate also Our Amazones of #TalaatayNder.
Youssou Ndour : Popular Senegalese singer ( cf seven second with Neneh cherry)
Talaata : Tuesday
Brack : King of Waalo
Linguere : Queen or royal princess