Ever since the day I wrestled with random Senegalese people on a beach in Dakar during orientation, I knew I wanted to learn how to Senegalese Wrestle – Lutte in french, Lamb in Wolof.
I had seen my supervisor’s brother, Pascal Ndiaye, walking down the street the other day wearing a robe “Lutte” written in big black letters on the back. It seemed apparent that he was an instructor. I ran to catch up with him and inquire. He told me to come by his house Sunday at six.
An example of Lutte’s immense popularity in Senegal: I was sitting in the courtyard In my house and my whole family was in the living room watching a Lutte match with the exception of me and Yande – my host brothers girlfriend, who was in the courtyard as well watching the T.V. through the living room window. All of the sudden, Yande screams a scream that makes me jump out of my seat. Also, even though I there is just one other person in with me, I feel like I am in the floor of a packed football stadium with the entire crowd going crazy. It was the strangest thing. I realized that everybody in my entire town was screaming at that moment. Who was the winner of the match? Joal native, Yekkini. “He weighs 129 kilos! He eats 6 kilos of eat every day!” my host mom excitedly tells me.
It is of no surprise that when he came to town a few weeks later that the only paved road in Joal was packed with people from beginning to end as the platform carrying Yekkini pushed through the crowd. I saw him over the sea of heads. He had the softest smile I had ever seen and gentle presence I had ever seen. I couldn’t help but think, “there he is – God himself”.
It was about 5:30 and I had just finished a hard day of work, which consisted of watering plants at the tree nursery. I was en marchant to Pascal’s house. I arrive and then Pascal has leads me to this giant plot of sand where everybody’s wrestling. Before I know it, I am shirtless, shoe less and getting a loin cloth tied around me. So just imagine me prancing around in a yellow loin cloth trying to throw massive Senegalese men dressed similarly to the ground – of course I stand no chance. He tells me that if I come every day for a month, I may be able to put a up a fight. I exclaim, “Awesome because I’m here for three more!”