Tarinoita Senegaljoesta

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Pohjois-Senegalin Saint-Louis’n saarella huijaripapit, aaveet, siirtomaaherrat ja ruumiita joesta sukeltava Seydou tutustuttavat lukijansa kaupungin värikkääseen arkeen ja valaisevat tarinoillaan millaista on asua Senegal-joen varrella ja välillä joen uumenissakin. Kalastajistaan ja siirtomaa-ajan historiastaan tunnetun saaren suulliseen perinteeseen nojaavat tarinat päätyvät harvoin kirjoihin ja kansiin, puhumattakaan että niitä voisi lukea suomeksi. Nyt se on mahdollista!

Otteita kirjasta

Saaren eteläisissä kortteleissa Ameth Fall-koulun vieressä asui nainen nimeltä Djemb Samb. Kerran, kun hän oli vielä pieni tyttö, hänen äitinsä lähetti hänet heittämään roskia jokeen. Kun Djemb Samb saapui joen rantaan, hän näki siellä vanhan rouvan istumassa penkillä. Kun tyttö lähestyi vanhaa rouvaa, joen henki Mame Coumba Bang tiesi tytön läsnäolon vaikka katsoi ihan muualle. Hän käänsi katseensa Djemb Sambin suuntaan ja päästi suupielestään ciipatuu-maiskahduksen tyttöä kohti. Kohta tämän jälkeen joen henki sukelsi penkkeineen jokeen ja katosi veden syvyyksiin. Tästä päivästä alkaen Djemb Sambin suu vääntyi vinoon asentoon, eikä hän koskaan onnistunut saamaan lapsia.

Kun joen henki teki Djemb Sambille ciipatuun, tytön olisi pitänyt päästää ciipatuu suustaan saman tien takaisin joen hengen suuntaan. Jos hän olisi tehnyt niin, hänelle ei olisi käynyt kuinkaan.

Nasille ei käynyt näin köpelösti. Siihen aikaan, kun joen vesi oli makeaa, Nasi pesi pyykkiä joen rannassa vanhan höyrynosturin vieressä. Pyykätessä hän huomasi joen hengen Mame Coumba Bangin tulevan häntä kohti ja tuijottavan häntä tiukasti. Kun Mame Coumba Bang oli tullut Nasin luokse, hän teki Nasille ciipatuun, ja Nasi vastasi takaisin päästämällä suupielestään mehevän ja vielä äänekkäämmän ciipatuun joen hengelle Mame Coumba Bangille sillä seurauksella, että tämä kääntyi kannoillaan ja katosi jokeen.

 

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Eräänä iltana nuori mies oli joen rannassa höyrynosturin takana. Hän oli siellä tarpeillaan ja oli asettunut kyykkyyn niin, että takapuoli osoitti joelle päin. Kun hän oli hoitanut asiansa ja oli pesemässä takamustaan, hän tunsi kuinka joesta ilmestyi käsi, joka auttoi häntä kyseisessä toimenpiteessä.

Nuorimies oli seota siihen paikkaan!

Tästä päivästä lähtien aina kun mies muisteli tapahtunutta, hän sai hulluuskohtauksen.

 

 

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Teos (114 s.) sisältää noin 50 valokuvaa Saint-Louis’n kaupunkimiljööstä ja tarinoissa esiintyvistä yksityiskohdista.

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Tarinat: Idrissa Diallo.

Suomennos, ulkoasu ja valokuvat: Jarmo Pikkujämsä.

Ilmestymisajankohta: maaliskuu 2019.

ISBN: 978-952-69023-0-2

Jälleenmyyntihinta: € 20,00

Late Afternoon Publishing kustantaa valokuvakuvateoksia, graafisia novelleja ja fiktiota Afrikasta ja Afrikan diasporasta. Senegal-sarjan seuraava osa on tämän teoksen wolofinkielinen versio Ci Biir Dexu Senegal.

Kirjaa on saatavilla mm. Turussa Pieni Kirjapuoti -kirjakaupasta ja postitse.

Lisätietoja: lateafternoon (at) outlook.com

© Late Afternoon Publishing – Reg. No. 978-952-69023 All Rights Reserved

Texture diary

I found some old photos floating in one folder that I had named “miscellaneous”. You know the type of dumping folder that serves for a long term graveyard for those shots you do not  know what to do with and yet you don’t want to toss them in the bin either. These ones have something in common: they are all close ups of surfaces. Not very typical of me as I have always been more inclined to take photos of people.

These were made without any particular series or project in mind. For some reason these surfaces and textures and colors had a strong appeal me and now it’s clearly another form of “long term diary” of places that I read when I watch them. The interesting thing here is how just about any image, even the most abstract one – has the power to develop into a story – whether imagined afterwards or something that really happened and had a wider connection to your life at the time when the photo was taken. To open up those contexts with these photos, please read on. I named these photos by their locations.

Saint-Louis I

Inspired by an exhibition where I saw one visually stunning screening of a video set up on a large mosquito net, I once attempted to photograph something through a net but did not really put my mind to it properly and abandoned the whole thing, too soon. I thought it just didn’t work out. Yet. I might try some tricks later on so better keep the photo as a reminder…

The Dogon Country

I don’t remember where exactly I took this photo, except that it was on one of my trips in Mali when we were going around the country meeting people who work in crafts cooperatives. This is the ceiling of a place where we had a short break for a tea. Buildings in mud are fantastic, they make me feel I am an earthling. And Mali is simply a pearl!

Dire Dawa

A close up of a pan that is called Mankeshikesha in Amharic. I bought it on the Kefira market in Dire Dawa so that I would be able to roast coffee in Saint-Louis on the rooftop (because roasting produces a lot of smoke). I did it a few times with this pan but abandoned it and started to use another, more practical one. I forgot the pan under a bougainvillea for many months in the merciless tropics and the next time I saw it, it had turned beautiful yellow and orange. I was so happy to see this that I made another art work out of painted metal sheets that I left exposed to the sun for a long time. I sprinkled them every now and then with all sorts of media and abracadabra! They ended up first in an exhibition and after that somewhere in Sweden. I still have this pan!

Saint-Louis II

More metal. This shot is from one of the local metal workshop round the corner. I admire all kinds of workshops where people make things by their hands. Welding and noisy stuff happens there day in, day out. The wonderful thing is that there is almost no work that they cannot do! Here’s a perspective: the so called developed countries have abandoned to large degree the knowledge of crafts. Everything related to manual work these days is overpriced, outsourced to distant poorer countries with cheaper labor, or it is practically non-existent. It’s painfully hard to find a handyman in a throw-away culture. Here i.e. in Saint-Louis of Senegal, on the other hand, whenever you need something you can start by designing it yourself and someone will make it for you out of the materials available. We have had a spiral staircase made out of metal, as well as a gas roaster for coffee. And so many other smaller projects. How neat is that?

Ngor

You are looking at the skin of a swordfish that was caught by one of the local restaurants running a fishing club and dragged ashore one day in Ngor in Dakar. It had a fantastic shiny deep blue color that unfortunately does not show in this photo. I may have post edited the photo anyway for some purposes. Fish is good, and their skin makes beautiful sandals. It’s a pity that their skin is not exploited here to their full potential. Yet. Though unfortunately fish meal factories and industrial fishing is killing the local artisanal fishing!

Saint-Louis III

The process itself becomes the art work. This piece of plywood was covered in old indigo that had lost most of its blue power. It so happened that I forgot the dye on the wood for too long before rinsing it out – must have been because of someone at the door interrupting my creative process – so eventually I left it as it is. The thing I like about natural indigo is that it is very blue and yes, it’s natural! And here I was completely taken by surprise with the “tired indigo” color. It has lead me to experiment with other organic surfaces and dyes too.

 

 

 

Bambara Mystic Soul

Recently I decided to keep my mind a little more actively on photography (oh how is that even possible I wonder…) and keep a photographic diary and take one photo every day. To mark this day and in lack of interesting street photos, I took a photo of a CD album I’ve been playing all morning, surprised by the vividness of memories that it provoked. If you ever wondered what it is that makes an entrepreneur start his or her venture and actually do it, you might be surprised by their answers. As it happened, I became a coffee roaster while I was still preparing my research degree, and always while roasting, I would listen to music. The fact is that I am more than to anything else attached to African music and that particular sound from many West-African countries, and over the years I have developed a personal archive of songs that throw me back in time to a very precise moment when I first heard any particular song. It’s a kind of a combination of spatial and rhythmic memory of sorts. For example: whenever I hear Salif Keita’s Mandjou, I am immediately teleported to another time where I am swallowing dust in car on my way to Gorom Gorom, with that fantastic feeling of being in the right place at the right time, and all of the time. Similarly, every time I hear Sima Edy by Dub Colossus’s from the album A Town Called Addis, I remember the actual very first days of my home based coffee roasting project when I was frying beans in a pan and then packing them in bags and gluing labels on them with a glue stick! It was around that same time when I heard the album Bambara Mystic Soul for the first time and I just knew in my back bone I should open a place where I could play this album to other people, I just had to! And so I did. I would then create playlists with music that mattered to me and instead of just having some background music to spice the day with it would be yet another way of actively sharing something important.

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Amadou Ballaké in Bambara Mystic Soul – The Raw Sound of Burkina Faso 1974-1979
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Bambara Mystic Soul – The Raw Sound of Burkina Faso 1974-1979
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Bambara Mystic Soul – The Raw Sound of Burkina Faso 1974-1979

 

If I am on travels and out of town, it is the sounds that I start to miss first. I’m not talking about the constant ambulance and police sirens of Brussels, but the human sounds of Saint-Louis, including the sabar and the tannebeer and other frequent gatherings accompanied by intensive drumming. The connection between sound and memory is immensely interesting! A classic question: What are the songs that you would have with you at all times? My list would be quite long..

Guet Ndar I

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Songu Daan © Jarmo Pikkujamsa (2018)

“One of the characteristics that I like the most among the Guetndariens is that they are in solidarity with each other. If you have a fight with someone from Guet Ndar, it’s like fighting against the whole village!

During the regatta, fishermen often fight each other by slapping their opponents with oars. But when the regatta is over, they make reconciliation just like nothing happened. The  fishermen of Guet Ndar are a great bunch!”*

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Songu Daan © Jarmo Pikkujamsa (2018)

*Text from Waxande Dex Gi – Stories from the Senegal River, one of my upcoming publications on Saint-Louis and its oral heritage.

Sabaru Tey

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Baye Samba  © Jarmo Pikkujämsä

A few years back I prepared a mixed media exhibition called Sabaru Demb  – A Rhythmic Experience. It consisted of sounds and texts on Senegalese rhythms of sabar and stories related to them and their origins, and on their transmission. It proved to be a very popular show among visitors at the time and I remember having thought that I would like to show the work elsewhere too. Now is the time that I want to return to the material and add something new to it in the form of photography and perhaps video too. Sabar is, after all, also very visual!

The way sabar permeates the Senegalese society is wonderfully complex. If you have ever visited the country, you understand how sabar belongs to everybody and can be found, heard and participated in practically everywhere and any time of the day – or night. The beat that carves itself into your auditory memory – or dance moves – can be inspired by a number of things, for instance by the national fish and rice dish ceebu jën:

“You have to spice your Ceebu Jën. Otherwise, your husband will divorce you!”

Or rhythms can describe the area in which you live, such as the fertile land of Waalo in the north:

“Waalo-Waalo! Waalo-Waalo! The Sugar is in Waalo. The water is in Waalo. The rice is in Waalo. Waalo-Waalo! Go up to Dagana. Go up to Richard-Toll. Go up to Ndar-Geej. Waalo-Waalo! Say whatever you want. Do whatever you want. You don’t dislike. You don’t like. All happens! Come on Ndaanan, man or woman. Woman! Woman! Woman! A woman herself needs to have nice teeth. Nice teeth! Man! Man! A man himself needs to have money. Money! Money!”

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© Jarmo Pikkujämsä

The apprenticeship* in sabar is much about learning by mimicking and soon enough it becomes, as one artist in our residence recently put it, “a way of being.” Children are allowed and encouraged to take part in playing with drums already when the drums are still taller than them. When you are in a griot‘s house and dance sabar, you are being watched and encouraged to show that you have got the move, and there are no measures of what is right or what is wrong even if the choreography for each rhythm can be very complex. If you think of your steps too much, you’re already a little behind with the rhythm! When you dance sabar you “expand” and show your real height, and that’s what I really love to watch.

Sabar is also present in almost all the Senegalese films that I have seen. Watch Djibril Diop Mambety’s short La Petite Vendeuse du Soleil and you’ll see a bunch of girls with polio dance sabar on the streets of Dakar; or meet the enigmatic dancer in Hyènes by the same director; Joseph Gaï Ramaka’s adaptation of Bizet’s opera in Karmen Gëi has an opening scene in which two female protagonist challenge each other into a sabar duel; and similarly there is a fantastic opening scene of a wrestling match in Moussa Tourés’s La Pirogue. Every time I see sabar in any form, I take this indescribable pride in being connected to it. On a wider level, my interest in the sabar culture relates to my interest in movement. It may well be that I’ll have the chance to go back to Ethiopia later in the year. If this happens, I would really love to document the language of movement there too. But more of that later.

* A highly recommended book reference for anyone interested in the apprenticeship of sabar drumming: Patricia Tang’s Masters of the Sabar: Wolof Griot Percussionists of Senegal is based on her own experience among some notorious drummers. A good read.

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Aziz & Abdoukhadre © Jarmo Pikkujämsä