Theatrical event about fishers on the beach of Senegal

january 2008 -

Theatre Embassy based its performance about the working conditions of fishers on Senegal's beach near St. Louis on the famous Dutch folk drama Op hoop van zegen by Herman Heijermans. Director Anna Rottier has been working in St. Louis since the end of November, 2007.


"The working conditions of Dutch fishers one hundred years ago are comparable to the situation in Senegal today. The large tankers, often with a Portuguese or Korean skipper, transport the fishers and their wooden ships to fish elsewhere, such as Angola. The skippers have permits that the fishers cannot afford. This makes the fishers dependent on the skippers: they get little water, poor food and virtually no sleep. The title is Dieune na diaf, meaning: expensive fish."

"The idea came from Maaike Cotterink, a sociologist who was studying the conditions of the fishers here. The fishers themselves believe it is pure slavery! We know of mutinies on board the large ships. We hope that the fishers will start discussing the issue. We work with many Senegalese. My directing assistant is Pape Samba Sow, a respected actor and stage director. Thanks to him, we were able to contract Marie Madeleine Diallo, one of Senegal's best-known actresses. We also use three musicians and four dancers. The quality of the music and dance is extremely high."

"The cooperation is excellent, the work drive virtually as large as the passion and the talent. Most difficult of all is the language barrier. People speak French here, but most use the local language, Wolof. The work ethos is also difficult. The actors in particular are not used to working hard. It is difficult for them to maintain their concentration. The dancers work hard and are better able to concentrate. Despite the fact that they are needed far more irregularly. The musicians and dancers are excellent, providing a high professional level."

Dieune na diaf was made possible by the Cultural Centre Abdel Kader Fall, UDTS, CNV International, Brian and Lavinia Snyder Foundation, Kunstenaars&CO, the Fund for Amateur Art and Stage Art (Fonds voor Amateurkunst en Podiumkunsten - FAPK) and the Embassy of the Netherlands in Dakar. Various unions, funds and government organisations are also involved. After the piece premieres in St. Louis on 29 December, the performance can be seen in Dakar and in fishing villages along the coast until the end of January, 2008.