|Naturefriends Talk: Mamadou DIALLO, Secretary General of Naturefriends Senegal (ASAN)|
Mamadou Diallo, Secretary General of Naturefriends Senegal (ASAN), expressed his excitement that ASAN will be right in the centre of the international Naturefriends activities when he gave his speech during the opening of the Landscape of the Year Senegal/The Gambia. In his interview with NFI, he explains how important this initiative is for the region and his association, as well as his visions for the future.
In your opening speech you expressed your excitement about the new Landscape of the Year Senegal/The Gambia. In addition to the many participants from the region and the neighbouring countries, more than 40 Naturefriends from Europe came to visit, in order to take part in the festivities and to get to know the area. What does this mean for Naturefriends Senegal?For us, Naturefriends Senegal, it is a great honour and a token of friendship and appreciation that NFI is showing us. Putting the organisation of the “Landscape of the Year 2018/19” into the hands of Naturefriends Senegal, an African Naturefriends organisation, is a first within the history of the Naturefriends movement. You are giving us once more the chance to express our warm thanks to those responsible at NFI, as well as the participants from Europe and Africa – they have enriched the official opening of the Landscape of the Year with their presence.
As you know, there many things to discover in Senegal, as it is a country with a rich biodiversity, many ecosystems, a lot of exceptional tourist attractions and a vibrant culture. In addition, the Senegalese are wonderful people, very hospitable and open, also because of their diverse ethnic backgrounds and languages. We created different eco-tours for tourists which we can warmly recommend.
The program should be aimed at protecting the environment, fighting against climate change, increasing biodiversity and especially at strengthening eco-tourism. Indeed, the plan is to plant trees that can be used in many different ways in the family gardens: Trees with many leaves to provide shade, fruit trees to fight malnutrition and to support the family income, trees for firewood and to stop deforestation, trees that can used by traditional healers for medical purposes – in summary a reforestation to bind CO2 and to fight against global warming and climate change. In addition, it is also a chance for the local population to visit their cultural heritage. Once you get in touch with the diverse population in Senegal, you will admire how rich and multi-faceted their culture is. According to African tradition and the Senegalese “Teranga” (hospitality), your hosts will teach you to dance Mbalakh, Yela, Ndawrabine, Sawrouba and much more, to the rhythms of the tamtam, kora, balafon, riti etc. With the Kankourang Festival in The Gambia the guardian spirits will come from the holy forest. Not only to dance and to welcome the Naturefriends, but also to help the “Landscape of the Year” succeed.
Tourism is an economic factor that can benefit the people. It can be helpful to keep young people in the region and to minimise illegal emigration and its terrible consequences such as long odysseys, many lives lost in the desert and on the ocean and modern slavery in Libya and other countries. Yet, it is important to support the local population so that they can indeed benefit from tourism. Thus, it would be helpful to build tourist accommodation in the villages, to support local artists in selling their handicraft as souvenirs to tourists, to educate and employ women to work in agriculture, the processing of local fruit, vegetables and grains, as well as in the food service industry.
Naturefriends Senegal, as well as many other African Naturefriends organisations, has developed greatly as an organisation in the last years. What do you think was the recipe for success for a positive future of the Naturefriends movement? How important is the fact that our movement is international?
There is no one-size-fits-all solution. It is the work that counts. We have to realise that we, in my opinion, can profit from three main aspects: 1. The example of a wonderful man, the late president Alioune DIAGNE MBOR, who with his wisdom, foresight and his position in the community united the group and opened many doors for us. 2. Competent members who were committed and volunteered. 3. Reliable, generous partners who were just as committed as we are, as Naturefriends International, who were ready to support us and take up the challenge together. I personally do not regret to have asked Naturefriends France and NFI for a partnership with ASAN in the past. The fact that the Naturefriends’ movement is international is very important, as it expresses the common vision to work for environmental protection, against climate change, against poverty, for the support of eco-tourism and the international solidarity between the people, based on shared values, messages and specific initiatives. Your presence here, especially in times of worldwide