The next runner-up of our writing competition is Tamzin, who impressed our judges with a tale from her far-flung adventures in Senegal.

Tamzin with her new friends in Senegal © Tamzin Ward Kucurs

‘Are we there yet?’ – the eternal question was asked regularly during the bumpy, sixteen-hour car ride to Etiolo, a village in far South West Senegal, on the border of Guinea. We arrived, drooping from the intense heat, but there was no time for a nap on the packed dirt floor of our hut – the Bassari initiation festivities had begun!

The young men, clothed mainly in soccer uniforms and with money pinned into their braided hair, marched around the village, feet slapping the dust in an hypnotic rhythm accompanied by beating drums and shrill whistles. Next, in many individual ceremonies, a rooster was circled above each boy’s head and sacrificed. The smell of blood was stifling. The fighting spirit of the rooster accompanies each boy into the next day’s battle.

As the day drew to an end, a group of velvet-clad local girls bustled me away, through the trees festooned with dead roosters, which looked for all the world like party flags, They were eager to show me their homes, families, and pet monkey (used for picking out their lice!) and were especially interested in my long, straight hair as I was possibly the first ‘toubab’ girl they had seen.

 

Thank you Tamzin! Check out the other super stories from the competition:

– WINNER: My little but big adventure by Megan Banks, 10

Amazing Antarctica by Alisha Snaith, 11

Annapurna Base Camp by Zander Bertonneau, 12