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The organization Sylla Caap has been active in Senegal since 1978. Initially, the activities focused on several villages in the Casamance Region, in the southern part of the country, primarily in Koubanao and Diango. Schools, libraries, and hospitals were established, thanks to the Founder Dr. Sylla’s ability to engage, inspire, and motivate various partner entities.

In the early 2000s, Senegal initiated a program to reclaim agricultural lands in the Saint Louis Region, an area that had suffered from extensive deforestation and decades of intensive peanut cultivation, leading to the encroachment of the desert.

And here comes the vision: Africa Mandela Ranch! Where there is only sand and not even a fly has a reason to fly, an oasis, a village, a school, life will arise! The project, presented in February 2005 to the Rural Community, was approved, and in 2006, a concession of 100 hectares was granted. Since then, the work has been relentless, especially concerning access to water, reforestation, and organic agriculture.

Dr. Abraham Sylla
"In the blue of Abraxam"

“Will there ever be an African garden?”
Kundara wonders, listening to the murmur of the waves, secluded in a grassy clearing by the ocean.

Who is Kundara?
The exiled daughter returning to the African land, the literary figure (Kundara /Abraham Sylla. Oristano: E.P.d.O., 2015) to whom Abraham Sylla entrusted the task of testimony, intertwining his personal story with the tragic history of Africa devastated by colonialism.

Who is Abraham Sylla?
The one who believed in a sketched dream of the future, redemption for the African people. The one who acted to make the desert green, drilling wells, transforming layers of sand into fertile fields, planting trees, gathering people around a life project marked by peace, collaboration, useful work, knowledge, and human rights.

Kundara, her African name facing the Ocean, facing the Sahara, facing the ochre and purple city of Saint Louis, the ancient capital of Senegal, Ndaar, the marvelous… Not far from those places, the mythical places of Abraham’s childhood, there is a runway, a courtyard, a communal house and a large kitchen, a school, a library, a tailor shop, a clinic. There are cultivated fields, wells, chicken coops, herds, trees of all kinds where birds have returned to sing. There are women and men working, children learning to read and cultivate the garden, high school students on internships,
apprentice carpenters who will build durable and protective wooden and typha roofs.

Afrika Mandela Ranch, 100 hectares of desertified land in the territory of Rao, province of Saint Louis, Senegal, land that once belonged to Abraham’s family, purchased by the NGO Sylla Caap, and transformed in a few years – and with much work – into an ecological farm-school that involves residents from various villages. Afrika Mandela Ranch, the latest of many valuable local development initiatives in collaboration with local populations to facilitate access to healthcare, education, vocational training, initiatives to which Abraham has dedicated his entire life. Afrika Mandela Ranch, the community of work-learning-production that can become a model for enhancing human and environmental resources in impoverished rural areas. Afrika Mandela Ranch, this is Kundara’s African garden! Her joyful return to the land of her ancestors!

Who is Abraham Sylla? The friend, the special, irreplaceable doctor, the founder of the Sylla Caap Community, the intermediary for fruitful exchanges between Europe and Africa, Abraham, Soxna Beye’s little nephew, the grandmother to whom he was entrusted at 2 years old, upon the death of his father, the last of her sons. The love of this extraordinary woman who knew medicinal herbs and healed with natural remedies, especially pregnant women and their children, left a strong imprint on him.

Abraham grew up in an animistic spiritual atmosphere and, thanks to his grandmother, experienced
Initiation. Soxna Beye and Initiation are the foundations of Abraham Sylla’s personality and destiny. “Initiation is giving content to the container of life; it is giving it meaning, an ideal, and dignity. Initiation is liberation” (Soxna Beye). Through Initiation, the mystic secrets of the forest and the roots of his culture are known, blessed by ancestors, self discipline and tolerance are learned, and one becomes conscious members of the community. It is a dynamic experience that never consumes itself and gives direction to existence. From the source of the sacred forest, Abraham’s ideal of life emerged: goodness. Goodness that materialized in helping and caring for others, in the incessant commitment to improve the conditions of
his Africa.

Medical practice is a natural consequence of this primal formation. Abraham arrives at it after academic studies in sociology and international law conducted in France. The threads of his story come together in a leper village where a girl reproaches him and asks him to heal her, to heal his people, to be the voice and body of his brothers. Abraham told this symbolic episode – between the real and the transfigured – as a crucial moment of passage where he consciously began to become what he was, what he had chosen to be.

“So decide your purpose and use every day, every night, and every moment of the day and night to
achieve it” (Soxna Beye).

Abraham is the medical student in the Pavia of the ’80s, then Dr. Sylla, specialized in pediatrics, the disseminator in our obstetric wards of neonatal massage, the Daamp; is the miraculous hand that skillfully and delicately maneuvers ultra-thin golden needles, the homeopath, the anthroposophist.

Sooner or later, we have all been his patients, we who have been honored by his friendship; we have lived with amazement and relief the effects of his therapies, especially acupuncture, which Abraham used deeply, holistically, digging to the root of discomfort to restore lost psycho-physical balance. The ability to listen, to understand the situations from which illnesses, pains arise, comes before the cure, it is part of the cure.

Here, in care, Abraham’s life found meaning. Care for people, care for nature, care for animals. Care as an expression of respect for the human being, for the Earth we live on. Care opposed to neglect in interpersonal relationships and environmental degradation, care versus indifference, the oppression of the weaker, social injustice, racism, the cruelty of letting helpless beings die at sea.

Abraham, a citizen of the world, polyglot, fluent in French, Wolof, and Italian. Traveling between Switzerland, France, Italy, Africa. To reach patients scattered in different and distant places, to establish relationships with individuals and groups that bring their important skills and resources to projects for Africa through the Sylla Caap Organization, created on his initiative, and which has been operating in Senegal since 1978, in close collaboration with local populations and respecting their primary requests and needs, in the fields of health, education, and sustainable development.
Abraham has managed to reconcile with seriousness and lightness his European life and culture, customs, choices, and spirituality that are characteristic of African roots and his family of origin. He created a community united by love and an ideal: to contribute to the affirmation of a new, supportive, and peaceful humanity.

There are great women and great men who, even favored by circumstances, let go of power and are “benefactors” in the best sense of the term, and Abraham was one of them. Of noble family, he preferred the nobility of help and put his abilities and resources at the service of others. He never stopped believing in the possibility of a united Africa and free to build its own future, believing in humanity. His figure and his work deserve to be known as much as possible to stem with a story of courage and, yes, happiness, these difficult and, in some ways, frightening times.

The African issue is unresolved and more intricate and regrettable than ever; memory must become

*A beautiful interview was conducted by Ornella Ricchiuto of the Liquilab Association. The documentary “Abraham Sylla: storia di vita e di teranga, 2020. The DVD is available on request.

Foreword by Kyka Vidali to the book “Abramo l’Africano”Addio Lugano Bella Edizioni, Norbello, September 2023.

Soxna Beye
Soxna Beye
To My Grandmother Soxna Beye

That I have always heard my fathers say:
« The curse of our African land, of our African people, is that you men did not even wait for the first shot of the colonizing invaders and other enslavers, and you had already put on pants and a tie, to conform to their image, to obey their injunctions, to prostrate yourselves before them, with a clamor of ‘Bouhana bouhana bouhana.’ Command then, illustrious masters, and we will obey you at the cost of losing our culture, our soul, our dignity, at the cost of losing our future… We will obey you, dear masters!
Strange times…
And then everything began to falter. Only we women have always kept our wraps. May my Ancestors be praised… even if all men wear nothing but pants and ties, there will always be Women wrapped in their wraps, as if surrounded by their Negro-African dignity, saviors of their civilization, saviors of what remains of human dignity »

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