• Liz Ogumbo-Regisford

She loves me now!

Updated: Mar 1, 2019

My top 10 highs on Senegal, and why she loves me now!

I love this country because she loves me right back from the 1st time I set foot in her dome. When I first visited Senegal about 12 years ago, I finally found a genuine reason to visit a space I hardly knew anything about, except the fact that my girl, Valerie lives there. This was my opportunity to dive into the vibrant-buzzing-yet-colourful country, Senegal; a country on Africa’s west coast with a rich French colonial heritage and one of West Africa's most popular and safest destinations right in the heart of its capital, Dakar, a city famous for its rich artistic & music culture.

Dakar, the vibrant city is one of the chief seaports on the western African coast located midway between the mouths of the Gambiaand Sénégal rivers on the southeastern side of the Cape Verde Peninsula, close to Africa’s most westerly point. The city’s name comes from dakhar, a Wolof name for the tamarind tree, as well as the name of a coastal Lebu village that was located south of what is now the first pier.

During my 1st trip to Dakar, I got to organize a 'fashion meets music' soiree called FRESH, where I Showcased my then-current fashion collection and performed Live simultaneously to bring my creative offering to the audience in one space at one time time. Through networking, we got to make all this happen at the British Council in Dakar in 2008 successfully and that was my introduction to Senegal.

What’s odd is that besides the FRESH showcase, the only other memory I have of Dakar was partying till the sun rose, restoring, and getting ready to paint the city green for the next season of parties the following evening. However today, I have a whole brand-new experience to share with you.

This April, I got to visit the capital city of Senegal, Dakar during La Biennale, and got an opportunity to share my KenSoul at the Djoloff Boutique Hotel.

Right before La Biennale, I also got to hit the St Louis Jazz Festival in Saint-Louis, an old colonial town formerly the capital of French West Africa, for a 3- day-overdose of beautiful sounds from across Africa and beyond.

It’s no lie as we continue to evolve day, by night, by month and through the years, our perceptions change, our senses are heighted, our vision gets clearer and we are able to experience life with more clarity and enthusiasm while soaking up every refreshing detail.

If you have never been to Dakar, here are 10 reasons why you may share similar sentiments.

1. The Sea Vibeology

If you don’t know by now, I am a water baby who thrives by the sea; take everything away from me but just leave me by the sea and everything with be irie.

Besides the beautiful beaches, rocky cliffs, clear water, exotic sunsets and midnight sea-snacking around my favourite beach spots, I constantly indulged in the experiences around the cool beach spots located on the small cornices of Almadies for food, chill, calm and a breath of fresh air during the day, sunset, or midnight snacking by the sea including Marina Bay, La Mer à Table, Chez Fatou, Ngor Lounge, Sharkys

For higher-end and higher-spend Sunday lunch buffet & drinks till the sun goes down and the moon comes up, Terrou-Bi hit the spot, while an ambient dinner, at Alkimia brought us home.

Then of course the local spots right by the beach front of like Yoff Diamalaye knocked my appetite off on a great start-to-finish because this is where I had the best dibi in town complimented by an elegant bottle of Italian Wine. This beach experience has to be far off my best as I watched the sea by night while listening to beautiful music with great company. Besides all these beach spots, there are islands like Ngor in the north of the city that I also really enjoyed, Île de Gorée, Vivier and Secret, Dakar's best surf spots, and accesible to explore along many more exotic beaches within and away from Dakar.

2. The Musicology

In April, I got to experience live music in Dakar and in Saint-Louis, an old colonial town for a 3- day-overdose of beautiful sounds from all over the world at the St Louis Jazz Festival; The city was buzzing and the live music scene is on fire like music was running out of fashion. Not just one genre of music but literally every sound you want to enjoy is accessible; if you seek the music, you will find it all forms from my favourite mbalax, jazz, reggae and much more

As much as I opened my heart to receive all the beautiful music in the city, I also got a chance to share my music in Senegal with great feedback.

Phare des mamelles

Liz Ogumbo Live at Phare des mamelles

Located on the highest of the Deux Mamelles , a pair of prominent hills in Ouakam, a suburban commune of Dakar, Les Mamelles Lighthouse is a strategically important lighthouse situated near Cap Vert, the westernmost point of Africa, on the outskirts of Dakar the capital city of Senegal and has been described as "one of the world's great lighthouses, guiding ships around the western tip of Africa.

I have had the privilege to visit the light house twice within my two trips to Senegal this year; In April, we visited the Lighthouse for a Friday night where we let our hair down, put on our dancing shoes and enjoyed a great evening of food, wine and dance under the stars.

Luckily when I went back this July, I spent my 40th Birth-soirée on the 26th July singing my heart away under the stars to a beautiful audience as I brought my KenSoul right back to the house at Phare Des Mamelles

The Cave @ Le Djoloff

Liz Ogumbo Live at The Cave @ Le Djoloff

Another bliss-filled evening on the 4th August 2018 at a-one-of-a-kind cave; an underground jazz bar in Le Djoloff which I revisited to share my KenSoul with an amazing response from my ever-intimate, global-music loving audience. I had already performed at the Cave in Djoloff during La Biennale in May and then my itching feet had me rushing back to Dakar for more.

I love the open-mindsets of the people which just makes it so much easier for me to share my creative stories through my music. The cherry on the top of all this is the this authentic group of audiences who love what I serve straight from the depth of my soul and take it in right back to their souls.

3. The cuisine

Where do even begin?
From my friend’s home helper, Agnes who cooked up a storm every single day that set me on a Christmas-in-July vibration.
Then of course my favourite Senegalese dish, Thiéboudienn (chep-bu-jen), the Wolof word for rice with fish Cooked in a tomato sauce with boiled fish and a few vegetables (carrots, cabbage, and green peppers, yam, squash, plantain etc). This dish takes about 7 hours+/- to prepare properly and originates from the city of Saint-Louis.

I also got to experience some of the best crêpe of Senegal's crêperies in St Louis at La Crepe Saint-Louisienne

My other favourite latest discovery from the local menu is Dibi; boldy-yet-elegantly spiced roasted mutton on over coals or kissed with wood-fire smoke, hacked into pieces, and served with grilled onions and mustard, and maybe bread on the side. God Knows I hate mustard and I don't like bread on the side of such an eloquent rack of mutton, but either way, it didn’t matter how this dibi was served to me. I dangeroulsy savoured it all in every way I received it each time after the time before because I just cant get enough.

4. Music In Africa

Music In Africa is an information and exchange web portal dedicated to the African music sector initiated by the Goethe-Institute together with Siemens Stiftung and other partners from across the African continent. With a vision is to be the leading source of information in and for the African music sector, I got to connect with the Music in Africa (Senegal) team for an interview prior to my shows with a stunning follow up review after my performance at the Cave in Djoloff Boutique Hotel

5. Western Hospitality (Happy People)

I have to admit that there is an overload of great energy and great vibes within the Senegalese people and culture which allowed me to soak myself in '6 feet under'.

Hospitality is definitely Senegal’s identity based on my general experience in the country. A few may have expected Baksheesh (a tip) at the end of my happy experience, but what I love about the people is their happy attitude and willingness to help wherever possible.

At least we still have ‘Happy people’ in this world.

6. La Monument de la renaissance

Yes, it is trues that in every city there are beautiful breath-taking monument, however when I got to discover the story behind her, she became one on my faves. This $27 million dollar African Renaissance Monument built overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in the Ouakam suburb is the tallest monument in Africa. Standing high at 49 meters tall, this bronze statue of a man, woman and child symbolizes defiance and future prosperity and is located on top of one of the twin hills known as Collines des Mamelles, outside Dakar, Senegal.

Once I made it, climbing up 180 steps all the way to the top, there was an elevator inside that took me all the way up to view the statue all through to the top along with a magnificent city view from all angles.

7. Decent late nights that never end

Did I say going to bed in the morning and trying to still wake up in the mornings after the nights before never ended? The night life is LIFE; from the spectacular sunsets and sunrises, sea, wine, music, breeze, beautiful people and the outings that never stop. Sometimes it sounds hectic when you think about late nights, but I promise you, this is not Patong Beach Party style in Phuket, it is Dakar which comes with a lot more sophistication, edge and plaisir.

8. An African Art hub

I must admit that my timing in Senegal was perfect because I was lucky to have made it right on time to experience an artistic over-dose during La Biennale in May.

When I went back in July, I also met a great artist Mor Faye, a senegalese artist who I am currently in collaboration with on a one-of-a-kind fashion-Art project which we will be released and shared soon.

Art Market by Ngor Island

As I appreciated all forms of art, this one wa sslightly different. One morning at the beach right behind Terrou-bi, my friend introduced me to a special beach artist who describes his work as 'cemetry art' when translated from french to English.

All he does is collect anything he finds in the sea or on the shores and recycles these items into something artistic. They may be dirty, but at art is art and I admire him for converting what you and I would consider 'rubbish' into art by the beach.

Dakar's never-ending art also features the ancient Médina district and esteemed Musée Théodore Monod, displaying African art.

9. La corniche

The long promenade is definitely somewhere to stop by when you get to Dakar because the vibeology pops at about 6pm every day; so many beautiful people in one place 'werking' and not twerking. Fitness in Senegal is a lifestyle on a whole new level. However, back to my inital point. The melanin 'poppin' is 'poppin' so, to all of you melanin lovers out there, the factor is in Senegal; give yourself a treat and go check it out live and direct on La Corniche. Along with a spectacular view of the city, breathtaking sunsets and sunrises and the sea you will definitely be inspired to keep going back.

10. My name is Fatou

From the time I set foot into the country right through immigration, everybody speaks to me in Wolof because they assume my name is Fatou even though mys skirts are way shorter than Fatou's. Despite my consistent efforts to justify my identity as Kenyan with no avail, I got tired! So, when I am in Senegal, you can call me “Fatou” Liz.

The 11th element is missing because we need to get it flowing in abundance. For wine lovers like myself, finding good wine in Senegal affordably was not easy keeping in mind that I live in South Africa and have access to some of the world's finest wines for relatively affordable prices. However one of the wine boutiques we frequented with a special selection of world wines is Africa Gourmet in Alamadies. I also used this as an opportunity to connect with wine connoisseur, Mokhsine Diouf to experience wine and discuss ways to penetrate the Senegal market so that the next time you and I visit Senegal, we will be buying Liz Ogumbo Wine from the local wine boutiques and restaurants.

If you are a wine distributor/hotel/restaurant in Senegal, feel free to contact me so we can get my wine to you and your wine market.

On that note, the buzzing nightlife that sets off in the morning, the rich history and detail in the arts, the cuisine that feeds my soul, the musicology that keeps me on the freestyle mic sessions, Dakar, the capital of Senegal is the place to be.

I wish you all the best in your quest to hit this city and experience bliss through culture, music, sea, good energy, the sun, the moon, the stars, dibi, surf, bask and maybe the opportunity to fall in love again.

Yours fabulously,

Liz Ogumbo-Regisford,

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