This is (part of) the life story of Sonia Sampayo. She was a student of biological sciences in Madrid (Spain) and danced from an early age. She studied classical ballet, but moved on to other areas of dance. 

During her studies and dance lessons she gets to know several dancers and musicians from Senegal. She is very impressed by their style of music and the way they dance. She keeps in touch with this group ‘Djanbutu Thiossane’ with several brothers from the Ndiaye family. She takes lessons from these brothers. With other students she takes a student trip with the other students to Senegal, to go to the heartland of the brothers in Senegal, to be more precise Lounga. To her this experience is mindblowing and she is swept from her feet, not in the least by the sensual approach by one of the musicians and singers Cheikh Kabir, a married man. 

After her two week trip to Senegal she continues in autumn 1996 her dance-lessons by the Ndiaye brothers. She meets another of the Senegalese musicians, Pap Ndiaye. He spends time in Madrid and is the center of the family, both in Madrid and in Lounga. He has left his two wife at home in Senegal. Sonia en Pap spent time together and notwithstanding the language barrier they get to know another. In the end Papa proposes to Sonia. During the very same night that Sonia and Pap sleep together Pap’s daughter Daro is born in Senegal. While Sonia is building her relationship with Pap she keeps in touch with Sheikh. In the end Pap wants Sonia to make a choice between him and Cheikh. Sonia is of the opinion that it is strange that she has to make a choice while Pap continues with his First, Second and Third Love, and his children.



In September 1997  Sonia and Pap get married, the process has gained momentum, partly due to the Pap’s need to get papers to stay in Spain. Sonmia prefers to stay with her mother, so the marriage is a kind of Living Apart Together. During the second trip to Senegal (with a group of dance students) Sonia is a married woman, but she hardly gets any attention from Pap, who spends much time with his first and second wife and other relatives. In the end Sonia convinces herself that Pap has taken care of her, but still this trip is a dark experience. 

The marriage of Sonia and Pap is a kind of a rollercoaster for Sonia. They spend time together, but also time apart. They switch from Spain to Senegal, from Madrid to Lounga. Where is their freedom? Where do they feel at home? Pap is of the opinion that in the end he will retire to Lounga, but what will Sonia do when that time comes?

A few times the story of her life is interspersed by notes on Senegal traditions and the life in a polygamous marriage.  Sonia does not want to make a judgement on polygamy and other cultural traits of Senegal, but it is clear that Sonia feels more at home with Pap when they are together in Madrid as compared to a shared (with many) life in Lounga. Her roots are clearly in Spain, even though she can be exulted about the Senegalese dance and music.

Sonia Sampayo – Princesa  de Africa – 2009

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I enjoy reading about Africa. New books. Old books. By African writers. By non-African writers. Novel. History. Travel. Biographies. Autobiographies. Politics. Colonialism. Poetry.

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