The owner of nearly 20-year-old Senegalese restaurant and nightclub Bissap Baobab is pleading not guilty to charges he illegally obtained US citizenship. In a public Facebook post, Marco Senghor tells friends of his popular Mission District business that he’s “dedicated” to fighting the charges and preserving the future of Bissap Baobab and sibling restaurant Little Baobab.
Dear Friends of Bissap Baobab -I must share with you the difficult news that two weeks ago I was arrested and charged with illegally obtaining my citizenship in this country. I am going to plead not guilty and fight these charges. I’ve hired a top defense attorney to represent me and I look forward to my day in court. The future of the Bissap Baobab Village that we have built together is uncertain, but I am dedicated to preserving it. I will keep you informed as my case moves forward.
Eater SF has reached out to Senghor and Bissap Baobab for details and will update this post accordingly. Per Senghor’s public note, the business owner will fundraise for his legal defense:
Meanwhile I seek your good wishes, moral encouragement, and financial support.
I will be setting up a special account to receive donations for my defense.
Please accept my enormous gratitude for joining me in this 20-year cultural and culinary adventure. Long Live Bissap Baobab! ~ Marco
Recently, Senghor was in the news for happier reasons: Buying out his landlord at 3372 19th Street to secure the future of Baobab in the Mission. Senghor also ran an East bay outpost of Baobab, in Oakland, which has since closed.
In a 2014 interview with Eater, Senghor explained the origins of his business, which is known to fans as a free-spirited dance destination driven by African music.
“Bissap is a hibiscus flower. Baobab is a tree. The flower is very flexible, and the tree is strong. And in Senegal, where my dad was from, in a village called Joal, we used to bury very important people inside the tree when they passed, so the tree is united by the spirit of your ancestors. It’s a tree of knowledge. It’s a tree that protects people. When I started the Baobab, I said, ‘Hey, if I have to give it a name, as a business in America, I will call it baobab, because I’m far away from my community, but I will be protected by my tree.’ And that’s what happened.”