Friday, December 30, 2005

Guest Blog: Morning Sounds on Goree

Goree Island sits off of Senegal about three kilometers from Dakar. It is rich in history, most significantly because of its role as the center of the West African slave trade.

Steve Grant, an acquaintance who is an author and scholar, is visiting Goree for the holidays. Earlier in the year, he completed a forthcoming book about Peter Strickland, a 19th century shipmaster, merchant and U.S. consul in Senegal, then a French colony.

Steve shares this evocative post with Kiko's House readers:
Here are some of the noises that you are likely to hear during the first quarter of the day, from midnight to 6 a.m. on the island of Goree:

Mouride or Tidjane (Muslim brotherhood factions) chanting, generally recordings, as the faithful stay up late in prayer to welcome in the holy day of Friday;

Somewhat but not always hushed conversations among groups of people who like to stay up late and banter; they may be lying on the ground, or sprawled on a bench. They live in huts with very small window apertures, and sometimes stay out so as not to suffocate;

The lapping of the surf against the basaltic rocks surrounding the island;

Sirens from departing or arriving container vessels that pass by Goree on their way to or from the main port of Dakar;

Very loud dance music recorded or by a live band whenever there are late Saturday nights parties organized by the municipality on the island;

Wake-up calls by roosters, sheep, guinea fowl, and a turkey or two;

A neighborhood cat or two in heat, with the resulting male cat fights;

Call to prayers to the island mosque over a loud-speaker system;

Sweeping of the courtyard as a diligent mother rises early and uses a hand-made broom about 18 inches long; she bends down from the waist and cleans the dirt surface of leaves, faded bougainvillea blossoms, papers, fowl dung, plastic; vegetable peels, and wood chips from cutting firewood;

The creaking open of a wooden door on its hinges, the door could be a couple of hundred years old, and the hinges almost as old;

Ubiquitous crickets.

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