The mothers of Kédougou: Matriarchy and Economic Development

Publish by : Adjoavi Virginie Souka

They are very present in all aspects of Kédougou's affairs!

My first impression as a mandated volunteer in Kédougou was the strong feminine presence in the streets, around the market, at intersections, in the few banks or mutual financial institutions, in the shops,..., at the hospital, at the pharmacy, in the restaurants especially in the kitchen, in public transport,..., at the post office and even in the church. You have understood, or almost, the mothers are driving the economic and social activities in Kédougou. 

Upon my arrival, the women I meet tell me: "Have you gone to greet Mother?", and I naively ask: "Which mother?" Then they say "Aya Ndiaye!" and I pretend not to understand until the person in charge of my local partner organization tells me one beautiful morning: "You must not forget, it's very important, we need to communicate about the fonio festival!" Ah! What's this festival now, another excuse to eat, drink, dance, and laze around at home? Well, those are the prejudices that one must shed.

Despite everything, I arrived on Saturday, November 25, at the Kédougou Cultural Center where the first part of this institutionalized regional rural festival was taking place, aimed at promoting the culture of fonio, a cereal highly valued in the Kédougou, Kolda, and Tambacounda regions of Senegal! I will talk about it more in my next blog post.

Guess who I come face-to-face with upon entering the Cultural Center: Aya Ndiaye herself, the Mother of all mothers of Kédougou, who greets me with a big, reassuring smile as if she was expecting me and was truly delighted by my presence at this event that she apparently organized! She hands me two invitations for the second part of the festival, which was to take place at the regional Governance building hosting tastings of fonio-based products! When I told you the mothers are everywhere, without them, nothing goes right in Kédougou!

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