Sunday, March 25, 2007

Video # 15 - Jola Bougarabou, at last

Now that was a full day. Started around 11am with a trip to the Cite des Arts, a bunch of artists' workshops and galleries. There seemed to be one main gallery open and everything else looked like people's work spaces. Maybe it was so mellow because it was a Sunday. The majority of work shown in the gallery was by an artist named Moussa Mbaye. Scroll down this link to see an example of his work and get a little info. Very beautiful collage paintings.

After the Cite des Arts, I took a cab to the Village Artisanel, not far from my sabar tacher's Medina neighborhood. Even though my friend/Willow's brother-in-law Mohammed confirmed for me before I went that it was mostly kitschy touristy stuff, I figured I may as well have a look. It was pretty kitschy, and pretty sleepy (again, the Sunday afternoon thing, I think). I didn't last too long there and decided to walk through Medina looking for a traditional music program that would be happening informally somewhere in that neighborhood.

This was around 2pm, so I was a little early. Programs don't really get going (at least when there are drummers involved) until it cools off in the late afternoon. Eventually I found my way to Rue 22, Angle 23, the cross-streets where the Sing Sing Rhythm compound is. Was glad to find it, because it was some indication that I could find my way around ok after a month. And good timing, as I found my teacher Malick there and picked up my m'bung m'bung, which sounds fantastic. I look forward to getting to it in New York when I get back. Interesting, as great as its been with Malick, he showed his youth this weekend. I asked him about getting together for a couple more lessons before I split, and he said that he's busy rehearsing for a big program with the Sing Sing Seniors (or maybe another other group; wasn't clear) and therefore wasn't going to have time to teach any more lessons. But then I find him at home chilling, playing soccer with his younger brothers. I can understand when you work alot you need a break as well - and he's definitely busy with playing programs - but at the same time he could use the bread, and its not such demanding work to spend an hour or two with me. Oh well. I've been able to get a dozen lessons in, and its been very informative and a nice hang, so however the next few days go is fine with me. If I have more lesons with him before I split Thursday, cool, if not, cool.

Anyways, I got back to the house and had a late lunch with Khady Gueye and some ladies who work for the Sao family. One of them, Bintu, is a Jola, and mentioned there was a big Jola cultural celebration going in a park not too far away. She walked me over there (thanks Bintu!), and there it was, the first time I'd seen any traditional Jola music live. There was one Bougarabou drummer, a guy playing a huge krin, and somwhere between 600-900 people. The woman and girls circled the entire park with iron clappers in their hands, and the men and boys danced in the middle. It was a giant end-of-manhood training celebration. Bintu said that it happens every week, and its the last Sunday I'll be in Dakar. Bummer! All I can say is I feel very lucky to have seen this before I split. I only saw and studied Mandinka traditional drumming in 02-03 in Gambia, even though there are many Jolas there. And this whole 5 weeks I've seen and studied Wolof and Mandinka drumming; again no Jola. I'm a big fan of the bougarabou drums, and its intriguing that for Jolas only one person plays either a single bougarabou or a set of 4. Seeing a krin player today accompanying the bougarabou drummer was interesting, and unusual I think. Or at least no more usual than one man playing by himself.

African drum traditions almost always seem to be about an ensemble of drummers and percussionists playing together. Wolof and Mandinka drummers are from the artisan caste. There are no such class denominations in Jola society. Also, throughout the performance, a few people would take turns playing the bougarabou and krin, as its physically demanding and also (see the link Jola link above) because the implication is that no one person is so great that others can't share the burden. Fascinating to read abut Jola culture. I've met some Jolas, but not been to the areas of Gambia or Senegal (the Casamace region) where they live predominantly. There are many Jola in Dakar, too. I just didn't know. Another mystery begins to unravel. Wow wow (oh yeah), as the Wolof would say.

1 comment:

Frederic said...

i think the 'krin' you saw, actually is a 'Bomobolong', an instrument used by the Mankagne