sporting diapers and spouting culture (1 of 4)

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February 10th 2012
Published: February 14th 2012
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heeeey boobooheeeey boobooheeeey booboo

kodiaks. cartoons. at best, reminds me of sibling rivalry...
part i of iv

'lutte' is the highly acclaimed and deeply beloved Senegalese national sport – and is essentially a traditional form of wrestling...

...and considering i don't even like the western world version of lutte, my enthusiasm for attending a local match tonight was driven only by curiosity...and a desire to break through my aloof attitude towards something so important to a country I love. and that I did.

i normally catch lutte on the beach. often towards sundown, boys and young men begin their very casual, definitely unrefereed matches. having never bothered to inquire with friends, i still have no clear idea of what goes, what doesn't go, and what is considered below the belt.

once in a while, I catch the other extreme of lutte: very professional and definitely refereed. these major matches are nationally televised and like soccer, cause hordes of men to gather round in tight spaces to loom over 10-inch t.v. screens.

the lutte landscape is generally this:

- you have some idea of a center square ring (in the professionals, this is marked out in white tape or chalk, in the casual matches, there is no set space).
casual beach luttecasual beach luttecasual beach lutte

(foto courtesy of ella?!)

- then you have the two male fighters, a referee who stays close to them, at least one MC and maybe a commentator, field boys running around repairing holes in fencing and superficially keeping order, each fighter's gris-gris boys who follow them into the playing field, assisting with their prayer and dancing around, each fighter's water boys who seem to drag around other supplies as well...finally, there are the spectators

and the time of the match? there is no set time limit. it takes as long as it takes.

until tonight, it has been hard for me to take lutte seriously, as you must envision reader, the round starts with two men, dressed in what looks like a fat diaper of a string bikini.

they bend at the waist, stabled by trunks of legs, and begin by pawing at one another the way two kodiak bears begin their wrestling. they fold over further, grasping sand in their half-fisted hands and throw it about...on their bodies, over their backs, sometimes on one another. not too far from how two silverbacks would go about it.

this comparison to our primate and mammal cousins is inevitable to a
the playing fieldthe playing fieldthe playing field

pre pre-game. we were embarrassingly early.
wildlife lover, and unfortunately, there also comes some aspect of adorableness about it. certainly not what the fighters have in mind.

but i digress. because watching my first live, organized and refereed local match of lutte tonite in the sleepy and slightly tourist overridden village of Toubakouta, i realized that the sport of lutte has some very interesting and admirable aspects to it -- and has either shaped some of the Senegalese culture or been shaped by it.

i still don't understand the rules exactly (i mean, are wedgies actually allowed?), but being able to badger my accompanying local friend with questions and having the time to just sit and observe the pre-game...i had my first deep thoughts about lutte and here they are...(in 3 parts following...if you have read this far!)

more foto below...

Additional photos below
Photos: 4, Displayed: 4


water boywater boy
water boy

one of the youngins who assist the fighters...not clear if he was also on prayer duty or not.

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