Dutch Sociologist and anthropologist Nella Star goes back to Ziguinchor, Basse Casamance, Senegal, after 44 years. We follow her while she searches for her former house to bring back memories.
Ziguinchor is the capital of the Ziguinchor Region, and the chief town of the Casamance area of Senegal. It’s located in the Casamance (or actually, Basse Casamance), at the mouth of the Casamance River. It is the second largest city of Senegal, but largely separated from the north of the country by The Gambia.
Research by Nella Star
In 1972 Euroconsult carried out a big rural development project in the Basse Casamance, South West Senegal. Apart from agricultural and technical factors also sociological and anthropological factors influenced the rural development like division of labour between men and women, boys and girls; the prevailing animism; cultural traditions of the Diola people who mainly populate, up until today, the Basse Casamance.
One striking change are the newly acquired mobile phones everywhere in the region of the Basse Casamance.
Nella Star:”At first sight not much seems to have changed over the past 44 years. At the time there were only dirt roads. Now just a few main roads have become asphalt roads. In the bigger places like Bignona, Ziguinchor and Oussouye there is electricity which is still absent in the country side except for some solar panels which feed some lamps and lamppost in the villages. At the time almost all of the houses in the countryside were mud houses with roofs of straw, reed or grass.
Nowadays there are brick houses also. Many roofs consist of corrugated sheets. One striking change are the newly acquired mobile phones everywhere in the region of the Basse Casamance which makes communication much easier and quicker. Still today much transportation takes place by foot, bike, donkey carts or bush taxi’s. There are not many private cars. At the time, in the countryside, the illiteracy rate was very high. French was hardly spoken by the ordinary people. Nowadays all youngsters attend school and are capable of speaking French (the official language of Senegal).”