News

    Vietnamese Continue Traditions in Senegal

    Multimedia

    Audio

    The West African country of Senegal shares a common French colonial past with Vietnam. Some Senegalese soldiers serving with the French army in Vietnam in the 1930s had children with Vietnamese women. Many of these children, now in their seventies, moved to Senegal, and some 50 years later, still practice Vietnamese traditions. Phuong Tran speaks with one of them in Dakar, and has this report for VOA.

    A group of friends gather at a table over steaming cast iron pots to make the Vietnamese dish lau. They take turns dipping seafood into the bubbling broth, waiting for it to cook before spooning it out into small bowls of rice.

    They share laughter, most weekend meals, and a common family trait: they each have a Senegalese father and a Vietnamese mother.

    Jean Gomis, 74, speaking in Vietnamese, says he is mixed, with red blood and black skin, but that his heart is gold, referring to one of the colors on Vietnam's national flag. He says he loves Vietnam as much as people who live there, because that is where he was born.

    Gomis says a happy childhood filled with songs and close friendships make him want to hold on to his past even though he moved away from Vietnam at age 14.

    Gomis says his Senegalese father was often away fighting in the war between the French and Vietnamese independence fighters, which lasted until 1954. He says he spent most of his childhood helping his mother in the countryside. He says that is probably why he loves to cook so much now.

    Gomis says he cooks a Vietnamese meal every day for himself and his Senegalese wife. He is recognized as the unofficial leader of the Senegalese Vietnamese community in Dakar because he is the oldest male in the group born to parents from both countries. He and others estimate there may be about 300 Senegalese Vietnamese in the country.

    Gomis says there are about a dozen like him who were born in Vietnam and still speak Vietnamese. He says fewer than five Vietnamese women who moved to Senegal with their husbands in the 1940s are still alive.

    One of those women is Madame Wone. At 87 years old, she has decided to learn Vietnamese grammar. Wone says when she grew up in Vietnam in the 1920s, she was not allowed to go to school.

    She says even though her memory is not so good anymore, her will is strong and she wants to speak more fluently, even though most her friends she used to talk to have died.

    Wone says she wants to visit Vietnam one more time. There, she says, she can practice her Vietnamese.

    Jean Gomis says within 10 years, he expects the Vietnamese language to no longer be spoken in Senegal because the younger Senegalese-Vietnamese do not know how to speak it.

    Gomis says it makes him sad a part of Vietnam's culture will die in Senegal when his and Madame Wone's generations die, but that is how life is, he concludes.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora