Happy Sponsored Kids Friday and Happy New Year!
Today, we get to meet Fatou, a 15 year old girl from Tattaguine, Senegal. Fatou has 3 brothers, loves to read, and lives with her parents (farm laborer and housewife). If hers is like most families in this area, she lives in a mud hut with either a tin or thatch roof. Her community is in Phase 3, which is World Vision’s final phase of community development. We don’t know how much longer they’ll be there, but WV has been there for 16 years now and the community is doing well.
In the wake of New Year’s, I thought I’d tell you about a cool Senegalese celebration I just learned about. In Saint Louis, north of Dakar, there is an annual carnival/festival during the last week of December leading up to New Year’s Eve. Le Fanal (loosely meaning “the lantern”) culminates in a massive parade across the city, complete with floats, music, a retelling of local history, and LOTS of lights. The length of the festival and the bright colors reminds me of Mardi Gras, which would make sense considering the shared cultural roots of both places (French and West African culture).
Where did Le Fanal originate and what is it like now?
In the 18th century, the Signare (usually, biracial wives of French colonials) would walk together to midnight mass on New Year’s Eve. These well-dressed women were normally accompanied by servants who would carry lanterns to light their way. Over the years, it became a tradition to see a parade of glamorous people and lights on New Year’s Eve – and that expanded with time. Floats were added, music and dancing accompanied the paraders, and local history became central to the event. Now, for an entire week, Saint Louis hosts dances and fashion shows each night, then a massive parade on the 31st. I’ve included a couple of pictures of the 2018 parade below, but you can see and learn more at: