Dello Djau was born in the village of Sambale Corubali near Galomaro Cossé in eastern Guinea-Bissau. When the war for independence began, he was seventeen years old. Despite the ongoing war, he regularly went to Senegal to harvest peanuts seasonally for eleven rainy seasons. He went to seven different villages in the Saloum area of central Senegal, using the money he earned to buy products unavailable at home.
He needed to leave for work because taxes were so high during the war that people were unable to pay it without leaving to search for money. People also had to work on forced labor projects to build roads in the colony.
During the war, Dello was able to avoid fighting on either side, however, he said many from his village fought with the PAIGC . He moved to several other villages before settling in the regional capital of Bafatá nearly 40 years ago.
People used to cross the border and work in Kan Ñambali, in Kontiba, in Baaru, all the way until Farifu. They would farm peanuts and when they were done you would harvest and everything. I went there to look for money and when I had it, when I returned, I would buy shirts and pants and shoes. I would bring the money I had saved back.
During that period, did you go to Senegal to harvest peanuts?
In Senegal, I went for eleven years. For three years I had an elder there but for the last eight years I was the elder harvesting there.
Where did you go in Senegal?
In Senegal I worked in Loumbel Kelli the first time. Then in Mboulol for the second through fifth times. I went to Fass betweenGossas and Kaolack for the sixth and seventh times. And to Ndawel for the eight time. To Touba Mbacke in the village named Missira Mame Balla for the ninth time. and Mbacke Baol was the tenth time. Then I went to Ngueloum near Guinguineo for the eleventh time.
How did you find villages to harvest peanuts in?
From Mboss to Mboulel to Thadiaye to Ndawel; I know Senegal more than many those born there. All the villages I mentioned are in the Saloum area; Niiri Samba Ndaw , Keur Samba Ndour, Mbar Diawe, Mbacke Baol, Touba, Missiri Mame Balla are villages I know well. All in Saloum.
How did you get food there?
We went to a hut where there was a restaurant. We were there for four or five months. We slept there, we washed there. Sometimes the youngest would go begging for food and bring it for us all to eat.
Did you pay for that?
We did not have to pay for that. But we would work for our host a few days a week. We would harvest and thresh peanuts, or we would find fire wood for his wives or pull water. And when we had food, they would cook it for us and we would all share.
When you came back to Guinea-Bissau, did you bring things with you? What did you buy in Senegal?
At that time, 5,000 CFA [in Senegal] was the same as 2,500 in Guinea-Bissau. We would buy pants and shirts and shoes. We would also buy bicycles to use here.
How much money did you make each year?
In Ndewel, I made 7,000. In Mboulel, 4,700. I came back with 5,700 another time. Another time 4,700. In Missira Mame Ball I never made more than 5,000. In Touba, I made 5,350.
At that time, how much was a bicycle?
Some were 3,000, some were 1,500, and some were 2,500.