March 29, 2016

2418 SENEGAL - Bassari (Aliyan) people

2418 Youg Bassari girls, granaries of millet and Flamboyant tree

The Bassari (A-liyan, Boin, Tenda Boeni) people are agro-pastoral Senegambian Tenda-speaking people of larger Niger-Congo language family living in West African countries of Senegal, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Gambia. Most of them are concentrated on either side of the Senegal-Guinea border southwest of Kedougou. Currently Bassari population is estimated to be about 38,000, with 16,000 people living in Senegal, 15,500 in Guinea, 500 in Guinea Bissau and some small numbers scattered in the Gambia and Mauritania.

The Bassari arrived in their area of occupation between the 11th and 19th centuries, establishing their settlements in the hills. Judging from their name "basa" which means "They are lizards," given to them by Manding people in an answer to Fulani peoples' query, one can clearly make a deduction that the Bassari came to meet these two tribes as well as other Tenda people. They have close relations with the Fula people centered locally in the nearby hills of the Fouta Djallon.

The bassari settlements on the hills provided defensible vantage points overlooking the plains below, and were made up of groups of circular thatched huts congregated around a central space. The area remains remote and many of the cultural adaptations of the people, including their agro-pastoral, social, ritual, and spiritual practices, persist to this day. They live in extended family compounds, each consisting of a cluster of huts usually arranged in a circle around an open space.

The area inhabited by Bassari is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bassari Country: Bassari, Fula and Bedik Cultural Landscapes. Two distinct geographic environments feature the region: the alluvial plain and the peneplain to the north and the mountains to the south. The former exhibit a mosaic of cultivated patches, pastures, bushes, the latter, relatively high and sheer, are dotted with several natural caves and have offered an environment particularly advantageous for the establishment of different cultural clusters and their defence.

About the stamps
The stamp is part of a series of five stamps dedicated to NEPAD , about which I wrote here.

Bassari (Aliyan) people - Trip Down Memory Lane
Bassari people - Wikipedia
Bassari Country: Bassari, Fula and Bedik Cultural Landscapes - UNESCO official website

Sender: Holger
Sent from Dakar (Dakar / Senegal), on 18.01.2016
Photo: Baidy Sow

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