History of Laamb
Traditional wrestling, also known as “Laamb” in Wolof, is a centuries-old sport in Sénégal. In terms of form, it is very similar to the Greco-Roman style of wrestling; however, it is very typical of traditional, African wrestling.
There are two forms of Laamb: the first allows the wrestlers to strike each other with their bare hands, which can be painful; the second is more acrobatic, and hitting is not permitted. When a wrestler’s back touches the ground, the bout is over; he has lost.
Laamb is as much a spiritual activity as it is physical; and wrestlers engage in various rites and rituals preparatory to fighting. No wrestler, regardless of his strength, physical, or technical abilities, will ever dare to enter the ring, much less fight, without his “marabout” or without participating in his own pre-match ceremony. During the ceremony, the wrestler, accompanied by drummers and singers, dances around the arena; around his arms, legs, and waist are various kinds of esoteric pendants or amulets the purpose of which is to protect him against evil spirits and the witchcraft of other fighters. It is this aspect of the sport which elevates a wrestling match beyond the level of ordinary spectator sport. Many people attend as much for the enjoyment of the ceremony as for the sport.
It’s carries on centuries of traditions,full of rituals, highly magical, islamo-animist mystique, fighter wears Gri-Gri amulets,oil themselves with magic lotions prepared by each warrior appointed marabout, with milk also, band of Griots will beat the drums (called sabar) inciting wrestlers to fight!
In spite of the popularity of soccer, basketball, and other imported sports, traditional wrestling is still the national event for the people, and receives a lot of sponsorship dollars to advance its growth. National champions are crowned and praised as the subject of numerous songs.
It used to be practised in the countryside at the end of the harvest, amongst the Serer and Diola ethnic groups. Wrestlers face up to each other, and the winner is the one who causes his adversary to fall to the ground first. This jousting battle used to be a means of measuring the strength of men, to determine the champion of each village.
It was practiced to rejoice, perpetuate cultural folklore, and to designate the strongest man of the village who will become the champion wrestler until the next year.
During French colonization of Senegal, these fights continued to take place in the bush, without the occupiers really knowing much about them. However it was a Frenchman who organized the first official fights in the 1920’s in his cinema El Malik in the capital, Dakar. The wrestlers were paid thanks to ticket sales. It was around this time that a form of the sport began in which wrestlers could also hit their opponents (wrestling with strikes).
After independence, this form of the sport slowly became professional and took hold in towns and cities.
CultureHISTORY: #Ferguson Protests - Magazine covers
Amazing images. The TIME & Bloomberg Businessweek cover photos were both taken by Scott Olson (Getty Images) who was arrested by the St. Louis PD during the protests and later released. The New Yorker painting was done by New York artist Eric Drooker.