Photographs by Dominique Catton
In the deep forests of Casamance, in Senegal, lives a king named Sibilumbaï Diedhiou. He receives his visitors at the edge of his compound, protected by the centennial trees known only in this part of the world. His gesture is gracious, his voice is deep. No doubt, although he has no political power, he is one of the last kings of Africa. However, his eyes reveal a deep sadness, and an inextinguishable nostalgia when he talks about the time when his name was Olivier, when he was a mechanic in the suburbs of Dakar. "Youth", he would say. "Beautiful, pristine youth. Later, he worked for a local holiday club, where met with people from all over the world. And he loved it. When he evokes these memories, his eyes sparkle: he was lucky enough to live his youth, a blissful, free, innocent youth. But then came the time when the Elder's Council, deep in the forests of Casamance, decided he would be their next king. He had royal blood in his veins. When notified by the Council, Olivier had to leave Dakar, change his name into a king's name - Sibilumbaï and take up office in the sacred forest. Otherwise, he would have been killed. Since then, he lives in complete isolation in the middle of the forest. This is the burden of the kings of Casamance. He can't leave his home, never. Apart when he thinks about his memories...