The Senegal Village at the Franco-British Exhibition
Part 1 taken from the official guide price 2d
In presenting at the Franco-British Exhibition a corner of savage dark Africa, we desire to express our thanks to the Chairman of the French Colonial Committee, who has given us his very valuable assistance in adding this living picture to the most interesting exhibits shown in the official buildings of Algeria, Tunis, and Indo-China.
We are also greatly indebted to His Excellency the Governor of the Senegal, who, without any hesitation whatever, has granted us the privilege of taking nearly 150 natives out of the Colony to form the population of the Senegal Village.
His Excellence’s permission was accorded readily, because he is aware that we have always treated natives well, and have done our best, without counting the cost, to make them comfortable in a foreign country on the occasion of former exhibitions in France.
Mr. Victor Barnberger, who presents pictures of the life of India and its natives in the British Colonial section, has united his efforts with ours to present the Senegal Village in a most dignified and effective form to the British public.
The amount of work involved has been very great, but we have no doubt that the ultimate success of our venture will recompense everyone concerned for the .great trouble they have taken. Aime Bouvier, Fleury Tournier, Explorers.
A Visit to the Romantic Country at the Gate of the Sahara.
Twin watch towers mark the entrance to the most fascinating corner of the Franco-British Exhibition. Do you hear, as you approach, the rhythmic chant of voices, the mysterious beat of drums. These are your invitations to penetrate the mysteries of the sunlit Continent, to transport yourself at a moment from the prosaic world in which you live to a land of mystery and romance. Behind these high walls another life is lived, a life which no reading of books and seeing of photographs can depict for you. If you would join the select band of travelers who have explored the hidden world of Africa you must pass through these gates. Here you may behold the true life of the natives. Before your eyes you will see one hundred men, women, and children, living and loving, working and playing, just as they do in that far-off land.
This is the Senegal Village. Here among the palm huts are living natives from that great territory of West Africa, in which France has carried on a civilizing mission since the fourteenth century, when merchants of Dieppe and Rouen founded their trading-houses on the low coast line. A peaceful and prosperous colony, inhabited by a strange medley of native races, tribes, and castes, little known to the outside world, but preserving in all its characteristics that peculiar charm and fascination which the land of sunlight holds for everyone who has once visited it. Such is Senegal, and of such is the Senegal Village at the Franco-British Exhibition.
When you have once felt the charm you will find it difficult to escape. Again and again you will come back, drawn by the strangeness of the scene, the amusements you will witness, the quaintness of the things you will buy. Here is colour such as you may see nowhere else ; here are men and women living in a manner as little like your own as any life could be; here are sounds and sights which catch your attention by their strangeness and charm by their novelty.
Let me act as your guide as you walk through the winding streets of this native village lined on either side by these low huts, with their palm roofs and jet black inhabitants. This is evidently a well-ordered community. It has its public buildings. In the middle stands a large common hall, where the villagers hold their council, and decide any matters of dispute which may arise between themselves. It has not the grand appearance of a European town hall, for its palm roof is supported by unhewn timbers, but it serves for the celebration of marriages and a place where the villagers can amuse themselves with games and dancing.
© Exhibition Study Group 2008