“Unburied, Unmourned, Unmarked: Requiem for Rice” Is Grateful!

Dear Friends,

It the 3rd part of John Wineglass’ and my trip to the West African rice fields, we crossed the Guinea Bissau/Senegal by car and visited the region of Ziguinchor along the beautiful Casamance River!

Highlights from our trip were:

  • We visited the Memorial da Escavtura e do Trafico Negreiro in Cacheu, Guinea Bissau.  In our travels, we passed through Cacheu twice and were hosted by the Mayor to sumptuous outdoor feasts each time!
  • In Senegal, we visited the Diola village of D’Oussouye where we greeted the King, learned from village elders about “Casop,” the Diola spiritual tradition of determining the cause of death and the party at fault by interrogating the corpse (via spirit mediumship), prescribing sacrifices for the deceased and the perpetrators’ families, restoring harmony to the village before burying the dead. We were also introduced to young single men pounding rice (and undoubtedly helping their mothers before they marry); I vowed to try this at home J.  John smiled from ear to ear when the villagers in D’Oussouye introduced him to the drums they play during funeral ceremonies.
  • There is nothing like the Diola rice fields! The mangrove rice fields along the Casamance River where Oryza glaberrima, species of rice domesticated in West Africa, was diversified are some of the oldest in Africa. We enjoyed touring the rice fields, which stretched as far as the eye could see. The women were transplanting rice seedlings from the rice nurseries into the rice fields while the young men prepared the rice fields. One of our guides, Paul Diedhou tried to teach me to use the wooden fulcrum shovel the young men to prepare the soil. I couldn’t quite get me back into it! After the young men completed fieldwork, the women prepared a feast.

All in all, this was a once in a lifetime trip that is transforming Unburied, Unmourned, Unmarked: Requiem for Rice in countless ways.  I am grateful to the US Embassy in Republic of Guinea Bissau, Instituto da Biodiversidade e das Áreas Protegidas (IBAP), Confederation of Farmers’ Organizations (KAFO), Agricultural and Livestock Cooperative (COAJOQ), and Ministry of Culture in the Republic of Guinea-Bissau for sponsoring my trip, welcoming John Wineglass, and providing logistical support, to Jose (Ze) Felipe Fonseca and his many colleagues and friends for planning and executing our trip, and to Bissau’s own Demba Sanha of TV Kiele and his crew capturing our entire trip for the “Making ‘Requiem for Rice’” documentary.

Thank you truly for your ongoing support,