Senegal – Religion – Coronavirus

Senegal’s Magal Touba will hold despite Covid-19 menace

APA-Dakar (Senegal)

The organising committee of the Great Magal of Touba in Senegal has ended speculation that the 2020 edition will be cancelled thanks to Covid-19.

By Oumar Dembélé

The religious city located in the centre of the country has decided to adapt to the health realities, but is ruling out the idea of postponing the organisation of its flagship event, which commemorates the departure into exile in Gabon of Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba, the founder of Mouridism, at the end of the 19th century.

 “We are preparing the Magal as usual. The difference this year is the context of the pandemic,” said Serigne Ousmane Mbacké, coordinator of the committee at the end of a Departmental Development Committee (CDD) chaired by the prefect of the department of Mbacke.


“Our discussions have revolved around this point to see how to ensure that we can properly implement the measures enacted by the government, through its Ministry of Health. This is Caliph Serigne Mountakha Mbacke’s instruction", Serigne Ousmane Mbacké, grandson of the supreme guide of the brotherhood said.


 “Those who will attend the event must know that this is a special context. And we have the will to ensure that they find here what they need for that,” he added.


He is also convinced that the security problems and flooding linked to this rainy season do not augur well for organising the event.

Nevertheless, they will do their “best” to ensure that the event, which draws hundreds of thousands of worshippers, pass off smoothly, he said.


The commemoration of Magal-2020 is scheduled “around October 1” according to the daily Vox Populi newspaper.


The daily EnQuête thinks that the holding of the 2020 edition is “dashed,” while Vox Populi stressed that the decision of the Caliph has been made: “Organise the Magal while respecting measures enacted by the Ministry of Health.”

 « New wave »

 The coronavirus is still spreading in Senegal, especially in the wake of the Eid marked more than two weeks ago. 

Many people had left to celebrate it in the interior of the country, ignoring the recommendations of the Minister of Health. Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr who had asked his compatriots to celebrate Eid El Kebir at home so as not to spread the virus. 

But it seems that this request was not sufficiently heeded.

 Senegal has 12,237 cases of coronavirus, 256 deaths and 7,728 recoveries as 4,252 patients are under treatment, five months after the first case was reported. 

The Director of Prevention, Dr. Mamadou Ndiaye, who reads daily communiqués from the Ministry of Health on the state of the pandemic in the country, is very concerned about this situation.

“We think we are facing a new wave with the increase in the number of fresh cases and community cases,” he told private radio RFM. 

People have travelled “before, during and after Tabaski,” but the effect of open borders and easing of barriers has also “contributed” to this massive contagion, the specialist admitted.

 Between 9 and 16 August, 1,159 contaminations, 679 of which stemmed from community transmission, were detected according to Libération newspaper.

Thus some people think that the state must find ways and means to convince religious leaders to postpone this year’s religious gatherings to prevent the spread of the virus.

The government has not yet taken a clear stand on the issue, agreeing with others who argue that it does not need to take a position.


Former Minister of Higher Education under the current regime, Prof. Mary Teuw Niane has been making a name for himself in recent days on the subject despite criticism from some quarters.

 “We must learn positive lessons from the mistakes of the management of the disease during the Tabaski movements. Thus the authorities should assume their leadership, anticipate, while there is still time, on the major religious events to come to avoid any gathering that may increase the number of cases and spread them in the country,” the mathematician recommended in a feature entitled “+27% Increase in cases in one week: Covid-19, post-Tabaski".

 “The arrival of the pandemic in villages will be disastrous… several leading intellectual, economic, social, political and religious figures have died, struck by the Covid-19. This is only the tip of the iceberg,” he added.

He wondered: “How many anonymous deaths, how many sudden deaths, how many community deaths were unknown to the general public?”

 Despite the sensitivity of the issue, the current Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Senegalese Petroleum Company (Petrosen) invited intellectuals and scholars (national languages, Arabic, French, others) to play “their role” by “the noble duty of science, "without any constraints other than those imposed by ethics, respect and morality.”


React to this article