Community: The Serer in Tataguine Village

From Mbour, south of Dakar, a long dusty road through villages and fields will take you to Tataguine.

Known to be the oldest ethnicity in Senegambia, the Serer people live in great number and by a powerful religious code. They worship the deity Roog and mix art, music, history and cosmology into their daily lives.

We organised everything through a guide-to-cousin-to-chief grapevine before even venturing out into the countryside, so this time we were able to arrive on horse and cart with more than half a ton of rice, massive blocks of soap and copious amounts of onions and biscuits to a vibrant traditional Serer welcome.

The griots (a class of travelling poets, musicians and storytellers who maintain a tradition of oral history in parts of West Africa) skilfully beat their tumba and djembe drums as the women took turns dancing and demonstrating the ceremonial rituals of the community.

The celebration was fast-paced and incorporated complex syncopated and cross-rhythms. To conclude each section, the percussionists would strike their instruments in unison, signifying the dancers’ changeover.

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