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Spirituality and Development: You Want to Find Yourself, Come and Get Lost in Ndem

Written by CorpsAfrica/Senegal Volunteer Mr. Assane Seck

Lost in the middle of nowhere, between the arid climate of western Senegal, through a red and dusty clay road, 11km after Bambey, is a village called Ndem. The first thing you will notice is a huge baobab tree. They told me it was the village gateway, the mystical guard of all places. It stands tall with its branches like tentacles, a symbol of the distant past and a future that leaves a thousand possibilities.

It is said that Mame Samba once lived in the village of Ceddo, meaning animist, which is just 3.5 km away. In his will to break the tradition of his ancestors and dedicate himself to Islam, he retired to this corner of Senegal. Here there were only trees, animals, and spirits to practice their religion and find peace of mind. He would say I am going to the “Dem”, literally meaning jujube, sidem, in Wolof. Hence the name today, Ndem. More than three centuries later, Ndem still keeps this Bayfall spirituality, a place conducive to reflection on the world and on oneself.

This philosophy, perpetrated by his great-grandson, Serigne Babacar, makes Ndem now the Mecca of Bayfall. The Bayfall philosophy, inspired by Cheikh Ibrahima Fall, the first disciple of Serigne Touba, and founder of the Mouridisme, is that of a simple and dedicated life at work. A work without any interest, if not the welfare of his fellows.

In the middle of the Bayfall, you will learn modesty in all its aspects, the sharing in the true sense of the word but also especially the gift of oneself. Give without expecting anything in return.

You will enjoy this village, where the sound of car horns in urban mornings is replaced by the songs of birds that perch at the edge of your doors and windows. Where the stress of traffic jams gives way to the patience you will have to show. Where instead of cars passing, you will sit for 30 minutes watching the crossing of a herd of cows, goats, and sheep going to graze.

I like to lose myself in the agro-ecological garden of the village with its botanical plants, but also in the ostriches, the peafowl, the turkeys, and the ducks. There are birds of all kinds singing at the top of their voices. A place where the spectacle of a sunset will give you the impression of having never seen it before.

Ndem is a remote village certainly but remains a crossroads of all continents. In this small village of just 50 hectares, I met more nationalities than anywhere else before. You have breakfast with a French, you eat lunch with an American, and you have dinner with an Italian. Here, the concepts of mixing, globalization, and sharing of cultures make sense. It shows, it is alive.

So if you are visiting Bambey, come by and see me in Ndem.

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