„For me Senegal is a beautiful country due to its peace and stability, its interethnical mixtures in marriage and its tolerance that is practicioned between the different religions. Muslims and Christians for example are buried on the same graveyard."
Souleyman Sow was born in Niaga-Peulh in Senegal at the end of the 1980s. The small village on the shores of Lac Retba was awakened from its slumber in 1978 because the Paris - Dakar Rally ended here until 2007. Today, Lac Rose, as the salt lake is also called, is a developed and attractive region for tourists. Souleyman runs the campsite Le Nomade here, which with its pool, bar and restaurant is more reminiscent of a stylish beach club. With this, the 33-year-old is continuing a family tradition, because his grandfather was the first to offer tourist trips around the lake, including camping, in the small village whose inhabitants farmed. Souleyman says: "This openness towards Europeans was still very unusual at that time, but my grandfather was a very open and curious person. I really enjoy sharing the unique land of my ancestors with visitors from around the world. The pink lake gives us everything, but sometimes I wonder what do we give back to the lake who is feeding us in so many ways? And so I left university in 2015 and started to cultivate a little organic garden on the land of my mother with salad, cucumber, strawberries, papaya, coconut ect. This was followed by the idea to give space to those kind of tourists coming to discover the cosmos of the lake but could not afford the big hotels. So I put some tents on our land, followed by the firts huts I built from straw.“ More and more guests came and so Souleyman opened a little bar, a restaurant and built a pool, only using local construction materials as well as expertise. So his project became an role model and showed the young people of Niaga-Peulh that staying in Senegal and not leaving to Europe can lead to success and even create jobs for other young ones. In fact Le Nomad is giving work to thirteen people. And even more because Souleyman met the love of his life at Le Nomad: „I met my wife when she came here as a traveler. We fell in love straight away. She is afrogerman and Christian, I am senegealse and muslim. We might have a different background but both of us have an open mind and accept and respect each other in how we are and which values we have. We know that love is not about our background and do not impose our religion on the other. Together we created our own culture and it works.“ His generation is compared to the ones of the last century very fast and while immigration to Europe is still a serious fact with many young men dying, it seems to Souleyman that more and more young people prefer to stay in Senegal than leaving to Europe. He says: „On the contrary, it seems to me that many Europeans are trying to invest and live in Africa. In the social situation, we are getting more and more open towards the European mentality but also among us Africans. I receive more and more African guests and this fosters our regional understanding and economy.“ His personal experience makes him believe that local entrepreneurship is one of the keys for Africas future: „Instead of keeping on waiting for jobs I think we need to encourage entrepreneurship. I believe that the development of a country goes by the development of local enterprises. But we need to learn to produce and consume without destroying our environments.“ And even more – especially when it comes to technology Souleyman thinks that there is a lot to do: „Most of our technology still comes from Europe and only a few African countries such as Ruanda have started producing own technology.“ Beside that he believes in the power of art to unify people from different cultures. And even Souleyman thinks that social media leads to a common global culture he feels a deep connection to his homecountry: „For me Senegal is a beautiful country due to its peace and stability, its interethnical mixtures in marriage and its tolerance that is practicioned between the different religions. Muslims and Christians for example are buried on the same graveyard. And despite all the challenges we smile a lot!“
If he could make a wish for the future of Africa Souleyman wants more young Africans to go and visit the world, they heard so much about. He says: „It is important to get to know each other as humans but also to break with myths about life in other countries.“