On January 7, 2016, the International School Network visited the Embassy of Senegal to interview the Ambassador, His Excellency Mr.Cheikh Niang and the Minister Counselor, Mr.Ngor Ndiaye.
Geography (by Madoka)
H. E. Mr. Cheikh Niang described Senegal as being an overall flat country. Similar to Netherlands and its flat land and tall people, Senegal is a flat country with very tall people. H. E. Mr. Cheikh Niang explains that the tallness is a great advantage in basketball, and is one of the reasons why Senegalese people are very well adapted to the sport.
While most of Senegal is flat, H. E. Mr. Cheikh Niang explained that the South East of the country has different landscapes of hills and forests. Also, he explained to us that Gambia, which is surrounded by Senegalese land, does in no way act as an interruption between the communication of people. The people in Gambia have the same customs, and Senegal has very good relations with neighboring countries.
Wrestling (by Madoka)
The main sport of Senegal is wrestling, Lamb which is very similar to the Japanese sport sumo. In Japan, Senegalese wrestling is often referred to as “Senegal Sumo”. The Japanese and Senegalese wrestling are similar not only because of the sport itself and its dress, but also because of its rituals. Senegalese wrestling itself only lasts for about 10 to 15 minutes, and the rituals take up much longer than that time. In Japanese sumo, the sumo wrestlers dissipate salt to keep away bad spirits, and similarly in Senegal, wrestlers use milk for the same purpose.
Tourism 2/2 (by Madoka)
H. E. Mr. Cheikh Niang also introduced the Gorée Island, which he explained as being “very moving”, as it tells the history of not only Senegal but also of Africa and the entire world. The island was the location where slaves were taken to the US, after being one of the first places in Africa to be settled by Europeans. H. E. Mr. Cheikh Niang explained that on the island are still remains of the rooms and chains used for the slaves, and that it is a very compelling place to visit.
Another tourist attraction H. E. Mr. Cheikh Niang introduced to us is Lake Retba, the only pink colored lake in the world. He explained to us that due to the chemical composition of the lake, one will float when trying to swim in the lake. He said that is a very unique and beautiful site to visit.
Gender roles (by Kate)
Although Senegal is considered to be a developing country, it has one of the most developed society of gender equality among the world. Senegal promotes gender equality as a nation along with its laws. In the parliament, there are almost a same number of men and women in elected seats. Women are treated the same as men in Senegal, given the same opportunity and power. In the education sector, there have been lots of progress in enrolling more women in schools and educational institutions. The people of Senegal believe that the effort and cooperation of women are significant to have in the developing process of their country. Women no longer have restrictions in the area of soldiers or custom officers. In fact, a recent prime minister was a woman politician. The gender equality in Senegal is in the advanced stage compared to other nations in the world.
Cultural values (by Madoka)
H.E Mr. Cheikh Niang explained to us that Senegalese people share many cultural values with the Japanese. Hospitality, which is expressed as "Teranga" in Senegal, is very important to Senegalese people, similar to the Japanese value of hospitality “Omotenashi”. H.E Mr. Cheikh Niang commented that respecting others is the same as respecting yourself, because tomorrow you can be in the same position. Senegalese people give shelter and assistance to those whom they've just met, and often invite others to lunch. H.E Mr. Cheikh Niang explained that in Senegal, one can knock on someone’s door to ask for drinks or to use the bathroom without a problem.
“Mougn” is another value in Senegal, which means patience. H.E Mr. Cheikh Niang explained that this word means that one must fight without giving up; even in the most difficult situations, one must rise up again. Mr. Ngor Ndiaye commented that this value is an important reason why suicides are rare in Senegal.
“Kersa”, which means modesty, is also an important value in Senegal. According to H.E Mr. Cheikh Niang, this value allows for Senegalese people to think about the feelings of others and to restrain from acting on their instincts.
Sincerity, “Mandou”, and responsibility, “Diom”, are two more cultural values H.E Mr. Cheikh Niang introduced to us. “Senegalese people never accept dishonor,” he said. People value honor, even more than death, which allows Senegalese people to work to their best even during times of difficulty.
The national motto of Senegal, “Un Peuple, Un But, Une Foi", which means "One People, One Goal, One Faith", shows the significance of the diversity in Senegal. H.E Mr. Cheikh Niang explained that people need to have faith in themselves and unite as one in order to accomplish their goals. At the beginning of the interview he mentioned, “There is only one human race”, illustrating how despite the different ways of life, humans are capable of understanding one another.
The Flag (by Kate)
The cultural values of the Senegal people are also expressed through their national flag. The color green on the left represents the agriculture industry in Senegal. It also is a symbol of hope that the citizens of Senegal have. The color yellow on the middle is a representation of the natural resources of Senegal and their national wealth. The red color on the right is the trace of people with courage and their blood that fought for independence. Finally, the green star in the middle shows the leadership of the government and the responsibility of the people.
Preservation of Culture (Reported by Kurumi)
HE Mr. Kottman stated that the act of preserving culture has been
HE Mr. Kottman had always been a diplomat at all areas. He has been working with the foreign service since graduating university. “I saw in foreign service the possibility to travel, meet new people, experience new culture in all aspects, and get in touch with new culture new traditions. It is still my passion and I still enjoy travelling. I am doing the best I can to get as much as possible from this profession and to travel as much as possible,” he expressed his undying passion for his job. Furthermore, HE Mr. Kottman commented that Japan is beautiful country with huge diversity; as there are cities, rivers, and mountains. He especially enjoys mountain climbing and skiing.
Surprisingly, HE Mr. Kottman’s childhood dream was not a diplomat. When he was about four or five, he had wanted to be a postman. “In our neighborhood, there was a man who was in his forties. When he saw kids playing, he knew the tricks. So, I wanted to become a postman, like him,” he reflected. “In the last grade of elementary, I wanted to go to a high school that prepares for the tourism industry. I wanted to travel.” For high school, instead of continuing on with the specialized high school, he transferred to a secondary grammar school. By then he was completely sure of where he wanted to be.
During his childhood, HE Mr. Kottman spent a lot of time on the streets, instead of at home; since there were no computers or video games. He often played games such as football and dodge ball with his friends. “I was not very good at sports and I was not in a team, but I tried all kinds of sports,” he added.
World Peace (by Madoka)
H.E Mr. Cheikh Niang explained that the first step towards world peace is building tolerance. “Tolerance”, he said, “is the key word- even within families.” We have to accept that everyone is different- with various beliefs and approaches to life. H.E Mr. Cheikh Niang believes that we must actively communicate to see the insights of others, and accept them for who they are. Communication, between citizens, countries, and in the United Nations is very important. H.E Mr. Cheikh Niang therefore pointed out that tolerance and human sensitiveness are very important in order to bring the world to a different degree of empathy. “Man is the remedy of man”, H.E Mr. Cheikh Niang explained. If one is sick, he/she should be treated by his or her neighbor. H.E Mr. Cheikh Niang also introduced to us that Senegalese people are very tolerant to different peoples and beliefs. The largest proof of this quality is perhaps the 1st president of Senegal. He was in an ethnic group minority, and was a Christian in a country of almost 95% Islamic majority. H.E Mr. Cheikh Niang commented that nobody had complained or resisted to the president over this fact, which shows the openness and kindness of the Senegalese towards different people.
Goals (by Kate)
His Excellency Mr. Niang commented that the relationship between Senegal and Japan are excellent. Senegal is among the first countries in Africa where Japan came to establish a strong cooperation. Senegal already has a great quality relation with official institutions in Japan and the Japanese nation itself. His Excellency Mr. Niang believes that his role as a current ambassador is to maintain the great relationship Japan and Senegal currently have throughout history and to help boost private investments in his country.
As a child, Mr. Niang’s dream was to be a traveler. He wanted to know more about the world and cultures outside of Senegal, his home country. As he wished, His Excellency Mr. Niang currently works as a diplomat, meeting new people around the world every day. He stated, “I am very lucky to be a diplomat. There is nothing more enriching for a human being than to be a traveler.” He said that his dream has been fulfilled.
Message (by Madoka)
The message H.E Mr. Cheikh Niang has towards Japanese students is to know that Japanese values are “excellent”. He explained that respect, discipline, and willingness to build a better world are values of Japanese people that he admires. He commented that he is willing to share ideas with Japan, and is hoping that Japanese people would uphold and cherish their heritage, while building upon it. Mr. Ngor Ndiaye added that he would like to see Japanese people be keener on knowing about foreign countries. He says it is important that students be open to other cultures and other ways of life. He also mentioned that because Japan and Senegal share many cultural values, it is very easy for Senegalese people to live in Japan.
Before interview at the Sugekari Juku Center.
After interview at the Sugekari Juku Center.
Madoka Nishina 12th Saint Maur International School
Kate Shimizu 12th Seisen International School
Karen Nishina 6th Saint Maur International School
Onishi Moe 6th Saint Maur International School