Days 18 & 19 12/1/13 & 13/1/13 – Our second Weekend as an African drumming group. I woke up on Saturday not feeling too great. I felt that the two weeks of work was taking its toll on my body. African drumming workshops can be hectic indeed. I wasn’t the only one who was showing signs of illness. I felt a fever coming on and my throat was sore. Hence all I did throughout the day was mostly lie in bed and take care of my health.

Myriam, Mandy, Rona and Jane were leaving today. After a second set of goodbyes and group photos I retired to my room and was zoning in and out of consciousness and woke up in the evening remembering the smell and taste of amazing hot lemon tea with honey courtesy Justine via Tannis. God bless them and their beautiful drum group.

The next day was my birthday. I don’t think too many people knew this and that is the way I like it. Tannis however, was the first one to give me my gift bag – a bookmark, a greeting card and a painted record. I had to make sure my phone battery was charged to be able to receive phone calls from India. Felt nice to talk to family and friends back home.

The next morning I was feeling much better. The day in bed helped. I had enough energy to fill in for the missing Dunun player at the dance class. It was going to be the best drum circle experience. It was a good experience playing the Dunun and Sangban for Djansa and Sunun. The dancers left in class are Justine and Tannis, the two main students of dance apart from Myriam in this workshop. The dance is coming together and Salimatu is really able to push the envelope with these two.

In the meanwhile Tapha had started work on my cow skins (the ones that Bruno had left for me). It is a lot of hard work. Slowly and surely we progress. By the end of the day I noticed half of the work done.

Tannis and I, we decided to make our way to the neighbouring fishing village, Kafountine. After lunch, the wonderful Abudu took us in his cab. “Is possible you drive?”, he asked me smiling… It sure was possible I thought. I drove all the way to Kafountine and some parts on the way back as well. Felt nice to be behind the wheel (despite not having proper brakes in the car). Felt nice not to be a tourist for a while!

We first saw the beach where there were Boats as far as the eye could see on the shore and many sheds full of fish and lots of black smoke. This where they smoked the fish. This is a major centre of fish export; nationally and internationally. We accompanied Abudu to his regular fish shop where we bought what we were going to eat the next day for dinner.

After the initial typically touristy places to shop we headed towards the town market and found the shops where they sold cloth material. I wanted to pick some authentic cloth designs up for the Taal Inc. Rhythm Ensemble Season 2 Attire. I think the new avatar should be very exciting; both visually and musically.
Next on my list was Shea butter. I saw them being sold in small cubes stored in water. I bought a kilo of butter to take back for the care and nourishment of many Djembe hands back home in India. The body shop Shea butter just doesn’t cut it. As the salesman cut the butter he popped a bit into his mouth, demonstrating the multifaceted uses of this product. The next door sales person very cool and calm; walked up to our salesman, stuck his hand into the bag and took a bit of the butter and lined the insides of his nostrils with the butter. One can safely infer that Shea butter is the West African version of Kailash Jeevan.
After all that shopping interspersed with the odd happy birthday phone call, we started on our way back.

We passed the village at Abene’s tip called Dianna where there was a local festival. This is where Tannis had spotted Le Concurrent earlier. We decided to stop and watch for a bit and spotted two amazing characters.

Kumpo: kumpo or kunpo is a man dressed in a green grassy costume from head to toe with a spear sticking out of his head. The cultural significance of the spear, I do not know. I noticed that there were girls on one side and boys on one side of the area and kumpo went to whichever side sang with more energy and vigour  The songs had very few words and more ‘oh’s’ and ‘aaaaah’s’. One of his main dance steps was sticking the spear on this head into the ground and spiralling along that axis. I was quite an amazing sight to witness.

M’bose / M’boss: this character is dressed in black and has a mask of a wolf covering his face. He made a guest appearance during kumpo’s performance where he scared a majority of the audience and then went away. Later, he came in full-form. Wherever he went towards people and especially kids would run helter skelter. I later learned that his main aim is to get everyone in the festival get off their seats and dance.

It is truly a sight to see how an entire community of people, regardless of age, are engaged with this folklore. Of course just like the west and the orient, these community events have reduced from weekly get-together to only festivals but it is heartening to know that the youth responds not only to Bob Marley.

I found out some more information about Le Concurrent: this character comes to a village just when / immediately after a negative phenomenon takes place (mysterious death, stillborn, big theft etc.) because he can sense these occurrences beforehand. The person who takes on the persona of Le Concurrent is no ordinary person; he is someone who knows ‘Gree Gree’ (talisman with divine energy) and has a special spiritual connection. The reason he darts about around the village with his machetes is to drive away the evil from the village and from the people. These are the ways of mysterious Africa.

We returned; but not without stopping at Abudu’s compound to pick some fresh Mandarins for dessert that night… Ah, what a life!

With nightfall, I realized that my body still needed rest and especially in lieu of what awaited us in the next four days.
Come. Drum. Be One.
Taal Inc.
By |2021-02-23T11:32:54+05:30August 10th, 2013|Categories: FeaturedBlog, Mamady Keita & Iya Sako Drum Camp in Abene Senegal 2012-13|