By: Monica Naida
Major: Global and International Studies, French
Cultural Connections in Senegal: Consequences of Globalization
On Thursday, the group and I went to Yoff in Dakar, Senegal which is a self-contained religious community where the Layene Brotherhood resides. Everyone in this community is part of the Layene ethnic group and they are all part of the same religion. It is a branch of Islam that started in 1909 when the prophet Seydina Issa Rouhou Laye pushed the sea back from the sand and it has never come back since. Now, boys dig in the sand by the beach because the water there is soft groundwater that is not polluted by salt. The legend is that this is all due to the Seydina Laye, who is believed to be the reincarnation of the prophet Mohamed and likewise, his son is believed to be the reincarnation of Jesus. They study both the Bible and the Qur’an and celebrate both Christmas and Ramadan.
Now, you might be thinking “what? who are these people?” but just wait. This community is so cohesive and safe that there is little crime and therefore, there is no police. They also do not have last names, but use the common name Laye-Laye for their last names and their greeting. This means that they are all the same, without status or division because they believe that they have all come from God and will go back to God in the end.
Upon entering this community, we were greeted graciously and made to feel a part of the community even though they have never seen us before and we look nothing like them. It was truly an amazing thing to be accepted in a place that we have never been, just on the basis that we come from God and will go back to God.
I think in the US, there has been a pulling away from religion and especially since 9/11, many are biased towards the Muslim religion. Nowadays with the poison of ISIS seems to permeate every headline but seeing this community restored my faith that humanity can be peaceful without being governed and without having a police force but at the same time, I don’t believe anything of this caliber could exist within my own country and I certainly don’t believe that the government would allow it. I am seeing different ways of life here and while they are refreshing, they make me feel desperation for my own country. More on this in another blog post but for now, here are some pictures!