On Saturday, Senegalese Muslim faithful will flock to the city of Tivaouane on the occasion of Gamou, an important festival for an entire community.
This October 8, Senegal celebrates Gamou. Wolof to refer to the day of Mawlid, the commemoration of the anniversary of the birth of the Prophet. Every year, on the night of the 11th to the 12th day of the month of Rabî' al Awwal, the third month of the Hijri calendar, the Senegalese pray throughout the country. But one city is particularly festive: Tivaouane.
The holy city, not far from Thiès, welcomes many pilgrims on the occasion of the Gamou. Since 1902, Sheikh al-Saïdi al-Hadji Malick ibn Ousmane ibn Demba ibn Chamseddine Sy has made this city a must in Gamou. That year, the religious scholar moved to Tivaouane, after having lived in Mauritania, in Saint-Louis, in Louga and then in Pire.
Malick Sy, based in Tivaouane, has done everything to make Tivaouane the nerve center of Gamou, a celebration that marks especially within the Tidjane brotherhood. A religious act, but also a political one: the city of Tivaouane has become the symbol of Gamou "in a context where Islam did not yet have citizenship in Senegal, because of the abuses of the Ceddos, the colonial administration which did not appreciate the work of Islamization of the religious leaders”, summarizes Makhary Mbaye, in charge of the communication of Dahiratoul moustarchidine wal moustarchidaty.
A city in search of modernization
“The Mawlid is a divine tradition, because the Lord was the first to celebrate the Mawlid when he summoned the angels to him to ask them to celebrate the birth of the Prophet by praying over him. He said to them: 'The Lord prays on the Prophet together with his angels'. This is how he asked Muslims to follow him in this dynamic. And Maodo said: 'As it is the Lord who opened the way, I, Maodo, will not be left out'”, summarizes Makhary Mbaye concerning the spiritual aspect of Gamou.
Many are the dahiras, the associations of disciples, to converge on the city to celebrate the Gamou which begins well before the 11th night of the month of Rabî' al Awwal. “For the first ten nights of the month, the ten chapters of Mohamed Bousseyri's poem 'El Bourda' (The coat) are sung in all the mosques of the city, one chapter per night. We observe a break on the 11th day before leading to the night of Maouled, ”says Assane Guèye to the Anadolu agency.
Politically, Tivaouane has been the place to be at this time of year for decades. Senegalese President Macky Sall will be in the holy city this Thursday. "This is the first visit of the President of the Republic to the city of El Hadji Malick Sy after the laying of the first stone last June of the level 3 hospital", summarizes the Senegalese newspaper Le Soleil which praises public investments in this city. “In his firm desire to support the exercise of worship, in the comfort of the populations, with the permanent concern to reinforce the exemplary nature of interreligious dialogue, a factor of lasting stability in Senegal, the President of the Republic initiated in 2014 a Program modernization of the country's religious cities", recalls the daily.