This video says about itself:
Having emptied the European seas of fish, industrial fishing trawlers are now targeting Africa. But in places like Senegal, where the sea is the nation’s main resource, the EU’s fishing policies are devastating the country. Unable to compete with this ‘European Invasion’, Senegalese fishermen are being driven out of business. This expertly crafted film examines the scale of the problem.
The socialist Herman Heijermans (1864-1924) was the best known Dutch playwright of the twentieth century.
In the play, the rich man Bos owns the Op Hoop van Zegen, an old, badly maintained fishing ship, which Bos wants to sail, prefering profits to his workers’ lives. Later in the play, the Op Hoop van Zegen sinks to the bottom of the sea, taking the fishermen aboard with her.
The play, called Dieuna Diaffé (Expensive fish) in Wolof, has been on stage near the beach in Senegal, before enthusiastic audiences including fishermen.
According to NRC Handelsblad (translated):
The idea [of translating Heijermans’ play, and adapting it to present day Senegal] originates from Maaike Cotterink (27), who wrote her M.A. thesis in development studies about the fishing industry in Senegal. She studied a frequent form of fishing, in which small fishermen are dependent on big industrial ships, property of foreign owners. …
The fishermen stay at sea for three months and work seven days a week, 16 hours a day, under circumstances which look surprisingly like those of Dutch fishermen in the early twentieth century.
Cotterink’s teacher insisted that she should get Op Hoop van Zegen at the library. Probably an outdated play, she thought. However, as she started to read, she got ‘goose pimples’. Especially from the dialogue between [fisherman] Geert and shipowner Bos; in which Geert represents the workers and shipowner Bos the capitalists. The dialogue looks at both sides: the fisherman who has to work very hard and the owner who wants to cut costs. As I read that, I thought: it would be great to show that in Senegal. … Cotterink asked [Senegalese] fishermen what they sing as they haul in their nets, and put those songs into the play.
In the spirit of Heijermans, who wanted to denounce abuses in society, the organizers hope that Dieuna Diaffé starts a debate. After the premiere, early this month in the coastal city of Saint-Louis, there was a discussion, including trade union and government representatives …
“Was that a Dutch play?”, spectator Moussa Diagne reacts surprisedly. “How strange. It really was about us”.
A video, showing a Dutch 21st century adaptation of Op Hoop van Zegen is here.
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- Day 5 in Senegal (stephaniemcalexander.wordpress.com)
- Mangroves bring wildlife back to Senegal coast (terradaily.com)