sporting diapers and spouting culture (4 of 4)


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Africa » Senegal » Fatick Region » Sokone
February 12th 2012
Published: February 19th 2012
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lutte techlutte techlutte tech

generators, speakers, glowing cell phones...next to old school mosquito fires
part iv of iv

...lutte remixes the hi-tech and low-tech

typical Senegal, there has been an accommodating of hi-tech into daily life, without total assimilation or even obvious leaning toward wanting to lead a hi-tech life. that is, tradition and african life live alongside the blackberry (at least for now).

this lutte match was no different:

a large generator kept the string of faulty bulbs glowing, along with a radio and speakers that were literally taller and wider than i. the dimly lit spectator benches had bright spots of cell phone luminescence. but to keep the mosquitos away? no sprays, no creams, no nets, no fancy t.v. advertisements about malaria or anti-mosquito products...but instead during pre-game, the field boys made small shell mounds, added sand on top, then a a few sticks, then lit a little fire and let it smoke out.

...and the fighter's outfits?...under hip-hop attire and boombox tunes, they sported ratty pieces of loin cloth that had to be constantly readjusted by their assistant boys...will they one day sport goretex?

...lutte uses mystical islam

i still do not know enough about islam, but I do I know, the islam in
horse techhorse techhorse tech

how quaint (desperate) of us to take a chariot...on which the driver was talking on his cell phone. and everyone else's rang - including mine.
Senegal feels, and is said to be : mystical. not puritan, not pure.

for example, in all of the islamic prayers and ceremonies i have witnessed before my unslippered feet, veiled head or just on t.v....explain to me which part of islam involves using a cow horn to scrape a 5-pointed star in sand, then praying at each point, then pouring water in the middle, then sipping that water?

sometimes, the praying included building special forms in the center of the star; the one at my feet was composed of several mismatched flipflops, a wad of dirty cloth and an empty bottle. what page is this on in the koran? is there a diagram? and the gris-gris boys' dances? are there steps? does each swagger or false dip or punch to their spiritual warm-up coincide? do their possessed intermittent warrior and reggae steps hark Alla's words...and i just don't know it yet?

...lutte is unassuming and forgiving

i have finally been able to identify and name several characteristics of Senegalese people that make it comfortable for me to live here, which humble me, and which set Senegalese people apart from others.

one is that i
mysticalnessmysticalnessmysticalness

aspects of islam foreign to my turkish neighbors in berlin i think
find Senegalese people very unassuming.

this makes every encounter, every situation almost new in a very refreshing, freeing buddhist sort of way. this also makes the idea of an ultimate truth unreachable, undecipherable, and basically irrelevant. when one is hurt by lies, deceit or otherwise, there is also in the culture an idea of forgiveness. beyond being 'pas grave',iI have read about earlier kingdoms all over africa and the concept of forgiveness...of course, sometimes this was also in tandem with a retribution.

i more and more understand the unassuming and forgiving aspects of the culture as going hand in hand.

as in lutte, the fighters are unassuming about their contenders. somewhat due to mannish arrogance, and very much due to thinking that Allah is in control anyway....that is, if fighters lose, they may assume it was Allah's choice...and afterward they forgive their opponent, and Allah. how I feel about all of this in light of it being based upon a version of god, i am not sure...but i share this aspect of Senegalese unassumption as part of the ease with which one can slip into the Senegalese culture, and be seated at a crowded, hyped-up local lutte
quizzicalnessquizzicalnessquizzicalness

the islam is so open here, they tolerate non-muslims in muslimish garb
match without a local's second glance.


closing...

to close lutte on a less romantic, less anthropological note:

even watching lutte live in a village setting, where i finally had an appreciation of the fight, the fighters and audience members, let me also be clear that lutte could be construed as simply a circus-lit, square ring in which the heaves of thighs and bulging of muscles and grunting and storming provide a physical and mental space in which to allow alphas and betas to have it out, with most of their warm-up pants hanging well below waistline. hip-hop, you don't stop.


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though they look intent on shoving one another's face into the sand...they will shake hands and smile aftewards
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where 2 people were killed right before we got there...graffiti stayed


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