Introduction / History
If a person from America or Europe gets into a boat and comes to West Africa, his or her first contact with an African person will most likely be with a Lebou fisherman. The Lebou live in small fishing villages located along the coast of West Africa from Mauritania to Guinea. Their villages are sandwiched between the ocean and the desert.
The Lebou people speak Wolof. However, they have their own distinctive dialect that sets them apart from the surrounding, and much larger, Wolof people group.
Modern Lebou still live in fishing villages. However, for many of them, large cities have grown up around them and much of their property has been confiscated for urban development. The "Dakar" Lebou villages, such as N'gor, Oakam, and Yoff, are now incorporated neighborhoods with a city of more than three million people surrounding them. The skyscrapers of downtown Dakar dwarf the towers of their mosques.
The basic diet of the Lebou people consists of fish and rice. A few raise chickens and goats on a limited scale. Rice is purchased in the markets, as are the vegetables and spices they need to cook. Ceebu-jenn (rice and fish in a rich vegetable sauce) is a favorite Lebou meal. They often compliment this with smoked sea urchins they collect from the rocks along the coast.
The Lebou are also very fond of attaya, the Senegalese tea. This tea is served in three rounds. The first is strong and bitter. The second is slightly sweeter and sometimes has mint in it. The third is very sweet with lots of mint. The tea ceremony reflects friendship. The longer we are friends, the sweeter our friendship grows.
For recreation the Lebou enjoy storytelling, dancing, and wrestling. They also look forward to all social occasions such as baptisms (ngente), weddings, and any other times they can join together as a community. The Lebou people love to smile and are quick with a joke or a prank. An afternoon spent in their homes is an enjoyable experience for everyone.