The Legendary Land of Teranga

It is through Bassene’s words, an Historian, Professor, Political Scientist and Solar Energy Technician that we can learn more about the land of Teranga. More commonly known as Senegal, the country was once governed by a poet named Leopold Senghor largely acclaimed in the francophone literature. Based in West Africa, Senegal’s borders peculiarly – and with a bit of imagination – seem to be embracing the tiny Gambia. Dakar is Senegal’s capital and main metropolitan center which  has the particularity to sit on the most western point of the African continent.

Portrait Bassene

© André Ambrosio – 12/05/2013

Interestingly, Bassene doesn’t hail from Dakar but from the southern region of Casamance sitting in between Gambia and Guinea-Bissau. Casamance might be  unknown to foreigners but it has attracted the attention of experts following claims of independence raised by a minority group 30years ago. Despite tensions that have changed the nature of this conflict, Senegal remains this legendary peaceful land where ethnic communities have co-inhabited side by side for centuries. “Unlike the other West African countries, the Senegalese army has always stayed on military camps and not in power” as Bassene reminds us of Senegal.

 Bassene belongs to the Jolas and although they speak a myriad of dialects, he stresses on the ‘cousinhood’ existing between Jolas and the other main ethnic group, the Serers. Like a griot (African storyteller), he shares with me the story of Aguene and Diambone. The twin sisters’ story gives a deeper understanding of the history of Senegal and the kinship capable of bringing tribes, families and ethnic groups together. “They [the twin sisters] once were asked by their mother to find wood and while navigating to do so, they got caught up in a ferocious storm that halved their boat. Aguene clung onto her side and was carried by the tide to Casamance where she gave birth to the Jolas. At her end of the boat, Diambone reached  the town of Joal and became the mother of the Serers”. The sons of both sisters are the good examples of acceptance and harmless relationships that shouldn’t be transgressed to live peacefully. This might partially explain what Teranga is!

He gives another illustration of Teranga if you were to travel through Senegal. The Senegalese eagerly welcome visitors into their homes and proudly share their language and customs. On the land of Teranga, the Senegalese are socially well connected and support one another. “We never die of hunger in Senegal. That is Teranga” as he defines with his own words. It is this sense of hospitality, this ability to connect with the other or should I say to make this step forward towards the other. That is what makes Senegal a place of encounters and acceptance. Maybe there are some lessons that can learn from Teranga?

Interview with Bassene

© André Ambrosio – 12/05/2013

 Today Bassene works in solar energy and would love to export the Australian expertise to Africa that still faces energy management issues. As a man from the land of Teranga, he advises his compatriots wishing to explore Australia to abide the law and respect the others. “Australia can be an engine for development where equal opportunities lay ahead of us”.

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9 thoughts on “The Legendary Land of Teranga

  1. Bassene says:

    Formidable ton article, continue dans ce que tu fais. Bon travail.

    • mcabanes says:

      Merci Bassene! It means a lot to me. I’m very passionate about this project and you made me even more interested in Senegal. I so wish I could go there soon. One day I will and I will visit your beautiful Casamance 🙂

  2. mariecorb says:

    What a great article Marion. You are really talented to find this jewell figures. And you show then with master simplycit . Always a good reads your posts. I’m so happy that this one don’t took so long to appear. Keep doing this, you are doing so well. Me too, would love to know Senegal. Actually there’s a lot of Africa that I would love to go and see. Now, even more. Because of these great caracters you show me.

    • mcabanes says:

      Thank you Marie! I would love to know Senegal too. Maybe we will both visit those beautiful countries. Each person that I meet makes me dream even more about the African continent. They describe their life, their family, their community back home and I so wish I could experience it in real life. One day, I will.
      Thank you for your support. I will never thank anyone enough as I love what I’m doing, who I’m meeting and hopefully it will bring positive changes on how to see Africa.

  3. senamerican says:

    Hi, I stumbled upon your blog and I love it. I applaud the fact that unlike the media, you show positive aspects of Africa and Africans. I have linked your blog on my upcoming blog My blog is about life between the cultures of Senegal and the US. I have not gone public yet but you can still take a look at I hope you continue posting these interesting stories in such an uplifting manner.

    Best wishes

    • mcabanes says:

      Hi Marame,
      It is a pleasure to receive your comment. I do focus particularly on the positive aspects of Africa. Even if I have never visited any African countries, there are so many things attracting me to this continent – this is one of the reasons why I wanted to start this blog.
      The people that I interview make me travel and they constantly remind and assure me that Africa is a beautiful place with amazing cultures and peaceful people. I read your blog and your initiative is great! I’m now following you and will read your posts on a regular basis. I have recently met two young African people and I’m excited about publishing their stories.
      Stay tuned!
      All the best to you. Marion

  4. Arna Dia says:

    I was just reading through articles about Senegal to finish my presentation about this beautiful country i was born and raised in. Reading it made me miss home even more. You are doing a great job and wishing you all the best. I hope one day, soon enough i will be able to go back and visit again. Thank you for all the work you do to represent our homeland.
    From another proud Senegalese.


  5. Jean Pierre says:

    C’est vraiment une magnifique histoire que t’as rédigé sur le Sénégal et sur mon oncle.
    J’ai vraiment aimé et je te souhaite le meilleur dans tes quêtes futures d’histoire et de découverte en terre Sénégalaise……. Good luck*********

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