Once again we are extremely pleased to give another beautiful preview of a story by one of our favorites on the internet: Jungles in Paris, curated by Darrell and Oliver Hartman. This particular story takes place in downtown Dakar, on a beach called the Plage de Fann, although most of the regulars there don’t even really need to call it by name. End-of-day beach workout is a routine part of life for many fit young guys in the city, especially the students who go there after class at nearby Cheikh Anta Diop University. They have benches with weights made from old wheel rims, and permanent apparatuses for push-ups and pull-ups. All of it is very basic. Guys do push-ups in the sand, skip rope, help and compete with each other, and just generally hang out. Of course there is lots of soccer played as well, as there is all over Senegal. There’s a little side area for prayer. This is a city where you can do this sort of thing year-round, given the climate, although it’s often cooler and more comfortable towards end of day. Certainly a workout place unlike any other in the world!
Football, basketball, track and field, and jogging all are popular sports in Senegal. However, an indigenous sport that has existed for centuries is traditional wrestling, called Laamb in Wolof, which is also one of the sports in which the young men engage on Plage de Fann. In ancient times, wrestlers competed before the king and queen in village squares. Singers, dancers, and storytellers embellished the match. Wrestlers wore amulets to ward off evil spirits and black magic from their opponents. Nowadays, the tradition remains strong. As in former times, griots praise the victors in song and dance. The contemporary champions of the traditional wrestling sports are celebrities in Senegal, with fighters such as Yékini (Yakhya Diop), Tyson (Mohamed Ndao), and Bombardier (Serigne Ousmane Dia) the best known. And although these men are not likely to be found on Plage de Fann, it is very likely that a new generation of champions is active on the beautiful beach in Dakar now, eagerly training to take the stage one day.
Photography by Ali Withers.
For the full story see here.