A Mundus maris cultural event, Maison de la culture Douta SECK, 11 April 2013

On 11 April 2013, Mundus maris organised a Culture Day at the Maison Douta SECK in Dakar, Senegal. Having started and developed a fertile partnership with a number of different actors, Mundus maris wanted to share a result of the work of some of these partners.

The 'product' shared was born out of a combination of own activities by Mundus maris to raise awareness about the sad state of many seas and the joint projects with the partners, which the association specifically supported upon their demand.

Click here to see the programme.

Mundus maris president, Dr Cornelia E Nauen opened with an introduction to the association, its objectives and a summary on the major threats to the oceans.




Vice-president Aliou Sall followed with an overview of different results of 'works in progress'. Examples of results from collaborations in Senegal were presented to the public, which had followed our invitation.

The concern to restore and protect the sea ran through all the presentation, but was addressed from very diverse angles. All parts of the programme showed that something can be done against the major threats:

  • stopping rampant overfishing is an urgent necessity to restore suffering marine ecosystems, keep artisanal fishermen, women fish processors and marketers in business and ensure a mode of life inspired by tradition but fit for the future;

  • dangerous levels of plastic and other pollution are becoming a global problem: in the Bay of Hann that is felt at the most basic local level as bathing is prohibited since many years;

  • climate change with acidification as a major effect may only be fully felt in the medium term, yet scientists are already observing the first signs.


To get started in earnest and show what kids from the Khadim Primary School (located in the fishing village of Hann) had learnt already, they performed a sketch.

Under the leadership of Director Magath Diop, Khadim School actively participates in a budding network of schools engaged in testing teaching aids for the ecosystem approach to fisheries.

Mundus maris supports this network as part of efforts to strengthen both content and teaching methods. The general objective is to develop and implement transitions towards sustainable forms of living, starting with school children.




These activities aim at paving the way for a wider uptake of such approaches into the curriculum in Senegal.

The role play was produced by a freshly created theatre group at Khadim School calling itself "Ocean".

They called their sketch "The Bay of Hann, our sick neighbour".

The piece is inspired by the five key principles of the ecosystem approach to fisheries.






The Khadim School had been among the 10 schools in Senegal and Gambia testing teaching aids developed in support to learning about these principles.

This had been part of pilot activities starting in 2011 with FAO's EAF Nansen project.

The audience clapped forcefully in appreciation of the performance of the kids after only one week of rehearsals.







Next were remarks of Mr. Mbaye Rokh, a member of the National Bureau of Senegalese Fishmongers. He shared with the audience his impressions and first results from a collaboration between his organisation and Mundus maris deploying the fish ruler among fishmongers in the central market in Dakar and several major fish landing places.

The fish rulers are part of the teaching kit co-produced with the FAO and tested in real-life situations also at the central fish market, where the fishmongers have their major base.

Mr. Rokh's talk illustrated some interesting results achieved so far, but provided also food for thought on how to improve the effectiveness of the collaboration in the future. In the event, he reiterated the need to go beyond the fish ruler and plan for better concertation between fishmongers and the administration through broad-based dialogue meetings which still needed to be set up.



The following was the projection of a video about "Women in fisheries between tradition and modernity".

The video turns around an interview with Awa Seye, President of the women's groups of the National Collective of Senegalese Fishermen.

Mundus maris recognises the need to document the role of women in the fishery as part of its objectives.

It is critical to give a voice to the social actors who are often not heard.







It is a good way to raise awareness about the way in which they suffer from the negatives sides of globalisation and about the strategies they deploy to confront these effects.

The support of Mundus maris to this video production was fully justified when seeing some of the reactions.

These reactions went well beyond the applause in the room for Awa Seye's forceful utterings about a whole range of issues relevant to her community.

Awa Seye herself was in the room to follow attentively this first public screening in Senegal.






The last but by no means least part of the programme was an introduction and guided tour to a selection of works by Mamadou Ndiaye, better known by his art name "THIA".

THIA's lead theme these days and at least for the next three years is indeed as well "Battle for the Sea" in honour of the Senegalese film director Moustapha Ndoye.

This all-round artist also organises the by now well established international mirror art festival "FESMIR".







This year's motto echoed infact the same theme of The Battle for the Sea.

The realisation of THIA's thematic paintings focusing on the sea and how to protect it more effectively is the fruit of about three years collaboration with Mundus maris and others, such as Greenpeace.

It is worth mentioning as well that our association supports the participation of other artists in the realisation of THIA's programme. This is done through an emerging network led by THIA.

A small selection of THIA's proficient work was shown in the room.






The collection on display contained paintings on the major aspects of his work about the sea, namely the crisis of the resource, fish as food and the need to protect baby fish, the sea in traditional culture and the sea and the sacred and in spiritual healing.

A number of sculptures focused on wrestling, the national sport and deeply rooted in the culture of the country completed the selection.







Abdoulaye Gueye Diop, President of the National Collective of Senegalese Fishermen (CNPS) had come from Kayar to participate in the event.

He expressed his satisfaction with how the programme had placed the protection of the sea and the people of the sea at the very centre of the event.

He underlined the importance of broadening the dialogue and collaborative activities so as to find solutions out of the current crisis in the fisheries sector hitting artisanal fisherfolk particularly hard. Mr Diop was hopeful that the event marked a good stepping stone towards that.





In closing, Cornelia E Nauen thanked the presenters and participants and invited everybody to the cocktail waiting on the terrace just outside the room.

Armed with drinks and snacks quite a number flocked back to have a second look at THIA's paintings and sculptures and get individual explanations for each of the pieces.

Some fifty people had followed our invitation.

Among them were leaders of the major fishing communities, scientists, artists and representatives of environment NGOs.

Several journalists attended the event. They covered the Culture Day through two-column articles in three newspapers: "Walfadjri", "Le Populaire" et "l'Enquête".



At the end of it all, Mundus maris president, Dr Cornelia E Nauen, handed over a richly illustrated book about African cultures to the Director of Maison de la culture Douta SECK, Ms. Awa Cheikh DIOP, in recognition of her steadfast support for enabling the event.

The venue was indeed most appropriate for the purpose and an island of green and peace inmidst of the bustling and hustling Medina of Dakar: A powerful reminder for how important nature and culture are for our wellbeing.


Photos by P. Bottoni.





Cornelia E Nauen welcoming guests from Saint LouisCornelia E Nauen poses next to Awa SEYE and friends from Saint LouisA scene in the sketch of the theatre group 'Ocean' of the Khadim Elementary School, Hann, SenegalScene of the sketch by the theatre group 11Dakar028.jpgA scene of the sketch by the theatre group A scene of the sketch by the group Mamadou NDIAYE - THIA - ConsensusTHIA explains the symbolism in his painting 'Sentinelle'Mamadou NDIAYE - THIA - 'Save the thiof' (partial view)Mamadou NDIAYE - THIA - SentinelleMamadou NDIAYE - THIA - The platesGlamour of the Arenas by THIAView of the public