Hann, "Airport of Dakar"
Hann Pecheur is a district of Dakar, situated on the western bay. On the afternoon of February 10th, a meeting is held between a delegation of the network “Afrique-Euro-Interact”, and representatives of ANRAF (Association Nationale des Rapatriés, Rescapés et Familles Affectées, Sénégal), a group of – broadly spoken – people and families that are affected by and survived migration and deportation in Senegal. The forum theatre group Kàddu Yaraax is showing a play about migration on the atlantic routes, and activists of the caravan enact the play about the case of Oury Jalloh.
The Hann district is home to about 20 000 people, most of them fisherfolks. The conditions for local fishery is on a massive decline ever since the Senegalese government and the EU agreed on a treaty allowing the European industrial fishery to exploit the Senegalese waters. When the local fishermen go out, they find their fishing grounds already emptied. In addition, the bay of Dakar now holds the sad record of being the second most polluted bay on earth, says Pape Gueye, President of the ANRAF, while standing between the few remaining pirogues.
A conversion of the pirogues has taken place in Hann: from catching fish to transporting people – so many of these fishing boats have departed with direction Europe during the last years, that the district got nick-named “airport Dakar”. “Every family in this district has at least one member that has tried to reach Spain on one of these boats” says Pape Gueye. Many do not know if their relatives ever made it to the European shore, or if they sunk and drunk in the Atlantic. Since the European border agency Frontex is patrolling the coasts, the number of boats that are leaving is decreasing – from up to several hundred a week about 3 years ago to about 2 or 3 weekly at the time being.
The two groups meet and are being introduced to each other in the community center (salle communauté) of Hann. The two theatre plays show touching parallels in their views on the stories of those who dare the journey over the Atlantic sea, and then – arriving in Europe – are confronted with the brutality of police, the European legal system and societies.
The forum theatre Kàddu Yaraax has a very special role in Hann: “we try to sensibilize people for various topics, e.g. for all what it means to decide to cross the Atlantic – because those who depart often do not know what they will have to face, and those who stay do not know what happens to those who leave. The director of the small ensemble, Mamadou Diol, views migration as one of the severest social problems in the district and all over Dakar. He and his theatre want to encourage people to reflect on how they themselves can change their situation, in a self-determined way. Since Kàddu Yaraax was founded in 1993, the actors and actresses don’t play on a fixed stage, but mostly on the streets of the district. The theatre has advanced a campaign against the pollution of the Dakar bay, and even though its state has not much improved yet, Mamadou Diol is convinced that the consciousness of the people can be changed by repetition, and highlighting the alternatives in the playful way of theatre.