I was curious to know as much as possible about the Diola culture and their habits, and immerse myself into their daily life. I was impressed by people’s sense of community. Family structure is very different from Western culture. Children do not belong to their parents, they belong to the community, so in a practical way, a child has many dads, mums, brothers and sisters. That way they learn not just from their biological parents, but from a richer and wider perspective coming from many different people in the village. Seeing the kids happily living and playing together by the paths, the forests and the rivers, I couldn’t help but recall my own childhood, that amazing sense of freedom during the summer holidays, always playing outdoors, under the sun, with my cousins and summer friends.
Contrary to other hierarchical societies in Africa, an egalitarian social organization and a spirit of isolation and independence is the rule among Diolas. Every single day I received kindness and generosity “lessons”, either mingling with them, or simply as an observer: young kids, old men, they all treat each other in an admirable, generous way, always attentive, sharing the few things they had.