Travel Reportage > Life's a Beach by Tim White

Dakar's golden sands are the city's gym, playground and the heart of the community

Perhaps it’s something to do with being the westernmost city on the African mainland; perhaps it’s the troubled history of the continent that spreads east from its beaches. But whatever the reason, the people of Senegal’s capital city, Dakar, have their gazes fixed firmly out to sea. The vast expanse of beaches that surrounds Dakar- Yoff, Almadies and the islands of Ngor and Goree – are central to the life of the city, used daily by the local population for work and play. Early morning sees the fishermen landing their daily catch. By midday excited children are playing in the shallow surf and the drummers beat out the rhythms of beach life. Then come the surfers. For all its association with the counter-culture, surfing remains a largely first world sport. Senegal may be about to change all that, with its beaches gaining a growing reputation amongst the surfing community. By dusk the sands have turned into a giant outdoor gymnasium with hundreds of people running, wrestling (the national sport) and playing football. More than just a centre for the community, Dakar’s beaches have become a way of life.





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