Another highlight of the trip: The Kankurang-Festival in Janjanbureh. The whole city is busy and that night the opening ceremony takes place. This festival is happening again after a long break thanks to the “Landscape of the Year” and the goal is to re-establish the festival in Janjanbureh long-term. We are warmly welcomed and are brought to our designated places. The maskarades of the Kankurang are an intangible cultural UNESCO-heritage since 2008. Omar Jammeh, director of the Naturefriends partner organisation “Just Act”, thinks this is fantastic: „It is important that the cultural traditions of the region are not lost and the youth continues to care for them. We are happy that even young people can act as guides to the cultural heritage of the country and the region.“
We are driving to the Senegalese-Gambian border via Maka Gouye and visit the „Women’s Initiative Gambia” in Njaw – an absolute highlight. Aisha, a really amazing and strong woman, greets us. For her, there won’t be any development without women and she plants trees with her group since 1997, is involved in the support of youth and women as well as promoting healthy eating and processing recyclable material into products that are being sold in their store. They have their own bank, where the money is being stored – partly for the whole group, partly for the individuals. A story worth repeating!
A day of hiking, starting from the village centre, right at the Gambian border, through remote parts of town to one of the branches of the Gambia River. The landscape is barren and dry at first, some Baobabs still retained enough water to carry leaves – one can feel that the river is close. Later, directly at the water, we wander through a vegetable garden before we, back at the village, once more plant trees together the people living in the village. We are warmly welcomed, drums are playing and we are invited for lunch.
From our accommodation in Koungheul we drive about 10 km to Koumbidja Socé, where, right at the Gambian border, the opening ceremony for the Landscape of the Year will happen. About 800 people, including us 40 travellers from Europe and two Naturefriends from Mali and Mauritania, took part in the festivities. There was a lot of music, cultural performances, speeches, a communal meal and personal encounters with the local community – especially with students, since the event took place in a schoolyard.
„We celebrate the solidarity between the Naturefriends, who support our great organisation worldwide!“, says Moussa Traore (President Naturefriends Mali)
In the afternoon we plant fruit trees together with the local population in their village gardens – a fantastic experience for everyone – it is rare to have a chance for such a personal encounter with the locals.
After we arrived on the evening of January 11 at the brand new airport in Dakar (they still need to work on the processing the entry requirements) we stayed at the Naturefriends House Petit Mbao for one night.
The next morning, 12.01., our bags are put on two different busses after we received some information about the next details of our trip – we had also received detailed materials before the tour. Then we were on our way to Koungheul. After a lunch break in Kaolack we visited Koungheul Socé, where in August 2017 fruit trees were planted in the family gardens on behalf of Naturfriends Baden (Germany). Some families proudly showed us how great their trees were doing – thanks to their good care and protection.
Die Welt dreht sich – schnell, unaufhaltsam, ohne Pause. Schwups, und weg ist der vollkommene Moment. Mit einem Augenzwinkern ist die perfekte Gelegenheit verstrichen. Die Stunde vorbei – der Tag – die Woche – das Monat – das Jahr. Weg. „War da nicht noch etwas, das ich tun wollte?“, frage ich mich die ganze Zeit. Eine Weltreise, ein Besuch eines alten Freundes, ein klärendes Gespräch, ein gemeinsamer Ausflug mit der Familie, eine ausgelassene Feier?