Surf in Africa. It’s mix. It’s hook: People. Culture. Nature. Welcome to Surf Senegal, the first stop in Mami Wata’s African surf guides, touring the continent and providing you with information, stories, tales and inspiration. May it make you pack your luggage and zip up your board bag! Perhaps for your trip to Senegal you may want a pair of our new Ouakam surf trunks which whistle at the famed A-frame of Ouakam near Dakar and Senegal’s Manjak weavers. We’re cool either way. What’s important is that you make the trip and look good, do good and surf good.
The Ngor Peninsula, a suburb of Dakar and the westernmost point of the African continent. Jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean this is ground zero of the West African surf scene. The Ngor Peninsula is unique because it collects swells from both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, so there are waves year round in Senegal. North of the island, you'll find the tiny island also named Ngor which boast quality left and a right points, breaking on a shallow reef encrusted with urchins. These Northern facing waves pick up all the swell generated in the cold North Atlantic.
On the very westernmost tip of the Ngor Peninsula you will find a private sandy beach and a very good right hander, breaking offshore, also over rocks and urchins. This is a quality set up and collects both southerly, northerly and westerly swells, giving the break a number of different moods, depending on swell direction.
Further South you will find the little village of Ouakam and the huge, colourful mosque that gives it it's name. Ouakam, the wave is a perfect A-frame, peeling both left and right. It requires a bigger swell than some of the other waves in the region and works only on the North swells, that must wrap around the Peninsula to get in. Get it on a good day and you will be happy.
Bright hand-painted, fishing boats (known as pirogues, which arrived in Senegal from Madagascar during the French colonial period) are common in West Africa but the custom is maybe a little more highly revered in Senegal. Every boat is unique, painted in a distinctive style. Back in the day the boats weren't as colourful as they are today, adorned with the fisherman's name, or the name of his boat and maybe a single colour. Today, the fishermen believe the more colourful and decorative the boats, the more fish they catch. Many believe that specific bright colours attract certain kinds of fish. And in a time of dwindling fish stocks, with pressure from factory fishing vessels and coastal erosion widespread in West Africa, has led to a kind of artistic arms race played out on colourful and expressively decorated wooden fishing boats.
Our Ouakam surf trunks are made in African with Power, creating jobs and developing skills. The trunk is inspired by the Ouakam A-frame, on the Southern side of the Ngor Peninsula in Dakar Senegal. The fabric design pays homage to the Manjak handwoven strip cloth, traditionally woven by men in Senegal, that is sewn together into a whole cloth and worn as a wrap. Styled in a two way stretch, cotton and spandex mix fabric, the Ouakam is designed to fade naturally and is instinctive and comfortable, whether you’re surfing, running, playing beach football or just sleeping on the sand. The out-seam elastic waist adds to the comfort and ease of movement. We triple stitch all the main seams and double stitch the hems, creating garments that are built to last and survive your surf adventures.
If you like your coffee strong, cafe Touba could be for you. If you like your coffee strong, with a punch, Cafe Touba is definitely something you should try. A coffee drink that is flavoured with grains of pepper originating in nearby Guinea known as djar and sometimes cloves are added too. The addition of djar, imported to Senegal these days via Côte d'Ivoire or Gabon, is the important factor differentiating café Touba from plain coffee. The spices are mixed and roasted with coffee beans, then ground into a powder. The drink is prepared using a filter, similar to drip coffee. You will feel the power!
A few words with Oumar Seye, the World Surf League's man in West Africa, Vice President of the African Surfing Confederation, President of the Black Surf Club and School and general all time Senegalese surfing evangelist.
Mami Wata: Where's the best place in Senegal to watch the sunrise?
Oumar Seye: In Ngor Almadie because it is the tip of West Africa.
What's your favorite Senegalese food?
The local food.
Where did you last go dancing?
The Vogue Night Club.
Where in Africa would you like to go and surf that you haven't already?
South Africa and Mozambique.
Three words you would use to describe Africa?
In West Africa, like Senegal, there is one word "Teranga" – it means the rich hospitality and respect of the environment for your guest.
Do you follow a religion? If so, which one?
What languages do you speak?
French, English and Wolof.
What is African?
Open men. Clever men who manage with little means.
What do you escape from when you surf?
The dangerous people.
What makes surf more than a sport?
The fact that one is in a family, that there is no border and not to exaggerate, it is like a religion.
Is nature a man or a woman?
Nature remains nature.
The best African wave you've ever surfed?
Ouakam in Senegal and Punta Preta en Cabo Verde
Three music tracks you were listening this week?
Billie Holiday, Jack Benson and Loudup.
What's the best drink in Senegal?
Local juices: Bouye, Bissap and Ginger
If you were an African animal what would you be?
Dolphin or whale.
Have you met Mami Wata?
Why does Senegal have so many urchins?
Is natural for Senegal and is a seafood.
Where would you most like to travel?
What is the smell of Dakar?
Sometimes fresh, sometimes polluted.
Words: Andy Davis
Photographs: Alan Van Gysen