Michael von Buttlar is one of our interns currently based in Dakar, where his work is focused on Local Initiatives.
Sports in Senegal can truly be described as movements of the masses. Both football (real football, not hand egg as in North American CFL/NFL football) and wrestling draw supporters in droves but be on your guard because crowd control at these events is in and of itself a spectacle to behold.
At both events that I attended there were plenty of police and gendarmes on foot and on horseback, not to mention the plethora of pickpockets scouting their next targets. At any rate, if you happen to step out of line or try to step into a line out of turn, watch out cause you are liable to be promptly shoved, heaved, or yanked in one way or another. On several occasions I was at the will of the horde of human bodies surrounding me as we were collectively pushed and tossed about. In line at the wrestling match I was holding on for dear life to the person directly in front of me as though I was in a dance train moving about the dance floor although in this instance I barely managed to keep my place from the constant threat of a new intruder. Come to think of it, there was probably more contact and wrestling outside in line than during the actual event!
At the football match any movement also proved to be perilous but it was a great way to take in a Sunday. Just before the match began I managed to get to the toilet but on my way back in, a group of over zealous fans pried one of the doors open and, like floodgates, they started to pour into the section entrance. Immediate cries of ‘boss, boss’ were heard from the ticket collector which in turn brought a large, well-built police officer thundering down the steps swinging his nightstick and pushing the mob back outside the door. Yes, just about any move in the wrong direction in or outside the stadium at both events may warrant the brutal wrath of the billy club. At any rate, Senegal won the match against Cameroon, 1:0 but unfortunately neither the crowd favourite Modou Lô nor his rival Lac de Guier was able to best the other and the combat ended in a draw.