“Careful, duck your head. There underneath the lazy leaves of the nuwakini tree I found the passage to the eden. A cool burst of air hit me and I was sure it wasn’t just the shade. Startled, I found myself surrounded on all sides by a great green wall. I was standing in a brave new world, awestruck by the majesty of this impossible frontier. Lush tropical trees seemed to burst from the earth in a way I’d never before seen in the Sahel. It was simultaneously a window into the past and a vision of the future.”
Strange trails led me to the ancient city of Kanel where I met up with a good friend of mine, fellow volunteer, Samba Sy. We walked through the humble city streets looking for farms and gardens and of course signs of live fencing. He took me to a farmer’s house across town to begin our search for folks to interview for my research.
Ibrahima Ly created this magical garden, a space Samba refers to as the Oasis in No Man’s Land. The garden is a work of permacultural art, exploding with papayas, and other fruit trees. The scent of mint rose from the ground as we peeked around. The air temperature inside is tangibly cooler and the sight of infinite green makes you feel alive and happy.
Just outside the oasis lies the regular, barren nothingness that is the rest of the Sahel, rolling out over the plains for as far as the eye can see. The simple existence of this garden makes you wonder about all of life’s possibilities.
To see what Samba Sy is up to these days, check out his blog here!