The Saint-Louis Regatta was once again celebrated on Saturday 23 July 2022. This festival takes place every year in Senegal, precisely in the city of Saint-Louis. It is a dugout race between the fishermen of this town. Considered a tradition and at the same time a source of pride, the participants of this festival are delighted and dedicated to show their strength during the competition.
The Saint-Louis regatta is an annual ritual for Senegal. It dates back to the beginning of the 19th century, so for over a century. This festival is rooted in the history of this city, which was the African capital of colonial France. On the day of the competition the fishermen of Saint-Louis are divided into three teams. Each team represents a part on the geographical map of Guet N’dar, a district of the city. These teams are made up of 50 to 70 people who compete in one of three race categories. The competition consists in placing each team on board of long wooden canoes to travel two and a half kilometres in the estuary where the Senegal River meets the Atlantic Ocean. To broaden the competition, several independent races are also organised for fishermen from neighbouring towns in the country.
A competition that leaves joy in the hearts.
On the day of the competition, tens of thousands of people are interested and rush to the edge of the river to have a better view of the event, while many other young people settle on the arches of the Faidherbe bridge. So every year the competition puts the inhabitants of the Guet Ndar district in an extreme joy. The whole city is animated by the event. Already on the eve of the event, everyone is talking about it to the point where many people leave their work and focus solely on the competition. “It’s the feast of our fathers, our ancestors, everyone loves this moment and we don’t have time to go to work, we are all waiting for the competition”, says a rower.
Furthermore, fishermen in competitions, after several trainings, have to show their ability and honour. Indeed, the rowers go the extra mile and show their strength, as the winning team is respected and honoured by the whole town. The winners are considered kings. “Today we have a huge power: it’s a great success because it’s been five years since the same team won the trophy and today we dethroned them. Everyone in my community feels like a king now. It is for this power that everyone strives to win in order to be respected,” said Koutaye Niang, a participant in the Saint-Louis regatta, according to the editorial staff. Africanews. However, the Saint-Louis regatta has a particularity. It is only in this competition that the pirogues have the habit of tipping over their canoes during the race, then climbing back up and continuing the race.