Young wrestlers training on the sand in the village of Dionewar situated on a desert island in the mouth of the river Saloum. No visit to Senegal is complete without experiencing the sights and sounds of a traditional Sereer wrestling match, known in Sereer as Njoom. Moreover, there is no better place to witness such a spectacle than with its creators. Although today traditional wrestling in Senegal is a national phenomenon, it is rooted in Seereer tradition. This rich tradition continues to the present as nearly every Seereer village regularly holds organized tournaments and supports their own local champions. Unlike the style of wrestling that has taken hold in the rest of Senegal with its strong emphasis on striking, combat in Sereer communities has held true to the traditional conventions. The emphasis is solely on strength and technical skill with the striking of an opponent considered illegal. The objective of each warrior is to topple his adversary, forcing him into contact with the ground with his back or both hands and knees at the same time. Winning a match lets the competitor advance to the next round and possibly the final round, where money or even livestock is rewarded to the tournament champions. In addition to the unmistakable raw power and technical prowess of the Njoom competitors, spectators can’t help but notice the widespread use of mysticism throughout the arena. Grisgris, or good luck charms, are adorned and magic concoctions are consumed. Each warrior hopes their brand of magic, often sourced from a respected Marabou, is more powerful than that of their competitor.
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