Oumar possesses one of the most remarkable minds and memory I’ve ever seen. It’s stunning what he can recall, without notes. The specificity and depth is amazing.
This day the interview followed two lines. I initially invited Oumar to speak about the relationship between the Portuguese and the Lebou during the slavery period on Goree. Interestingly, Mr. Diene moved the theme of slavery to the felt sense of slavery under French colonization. He went on to speak about the protection of Lebou cultural values in the present an future.
Oumar then went on to respond to my question about slavery, and two other questions , the first about the roots of Lebou spiritual/religious beliefs (the origin of the jinn, rab, and tuur), and the second about the relationship between the Lebou and the Portuguese.
All clips are to uploaded to http://lebouhistory.ning.com/. Look for the clips of 5.22.
The following video was filmed on 5.13 from Oumar's home during an interview break.
Almamy is a Baye Fall. He is a disciple of Iba Fall, who was a disciple and contemporary of Chiekh Amadou Bamba, founder of the Mouride Brotherhood here in Senegal.
Almamy has often referred to his Baye Fall parties on Thursday nights, though these parties involve chanting and prayer rather than beer and nuts.
He invited me to attend a gathering at his marabout’s home in Mermoz Friday night. (The marabout is Almamy’s spiritual teacher, along with thousand of others talibes, or students, some Baye Fall, most simply Mourides.) A group would be performing the zikrullah and a series of Bamba’s poems, called Qasida. The marabout had granted permission for my recording the event as I wanted, so I came armed with both video and audio-recording gear.
The performance began outside the marabout’s home, the group sang the zikrullah, continued into a small living room, lined with couches (we all sat on the floor), then settled in the round, in the center of the room, around eight little stands supporting copies of the Qasida. The group sang a variety of Bamba’s poetry over about 90 minutes. Around midnight, the marabout joined us, and addressed to the group.
Almamy later admonished me for not videotaping the event and, in particular, his marabout’s speech to the group. He was not sympathetic to my felt need to be respectful and not intrude. I had permission, and that was enough.
I found the audio to be very moving, and asked Almamy if he would offer a commentary to accompany a short movie. He deferred to the leader of the performing group, Amadou, and explained that he would offer a better commentary and would be happy to help. So, this we did lat night, here in Ouakam. Amadou spoke about performing the zikrullah and the Qasida, with Almamy’s translation.
You’ll find edited recordings of the zikrullah and Qasida with commentary at
Our 6th graders last week performed the musical Pirates of Penzance to a packed house of parents, siblings and friends. The performance was videotaped and captured using a digital audio recorder, for a very clean soundtrack. While the kids may flinch at seeing/hearing themselves now, I expect that the recordings will hold important memories for the future.
Cudos to our music teacher, Becca Brink, for taking on such an ambitious task. As with most areas of the arts, the performance of Pirates required much more of students than other content areas. Memorizing lines, assuming a character, singing and acting in front of your classmates, coping with nerves – all this reveals parts of ourselves safely hidden away in a math class.
Note files uploaded to You Tube: