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Published: November 6th 2006
Darkness falls and the TamTams ring out.
I have one full day left in Foundiougne. It’s been nearly seven weeks since I rolled into town full of enthusiasm and energy. There have been times where the weeks have felt like months as I’ve struggled to understand conversations. But there have been times when I’ve felt a real fondness for the town and I will be sad to say goodbye to some of the friends I have made here. I’ve been invited into many aspects of the town’s life that most of the visiting tourists would never see.
Just the other morning, I found myself at the baptism ceremony for the nephew of WAAME’s Director, eating “Lakh” (A kind of warm millet porridge with cinnamon, raisins and soured milk), watching the cutting of a small lock of the baby’s hair and then finding myself witnessing the slaughter of a sheep. Not pretty at all as it’s pushed it onto its side as a man kneels on its back and cuts its throat and then holds it down as it struggles for air and life for a good few minutes.
And the same afternoon, after some drumming lessons for the kids, a wonderful lunch
What a send off
Actually - this was the welcome for the French delegation. I played for the locals before the French arrived.
with the Mar family and a glass of wine with their neighbours, I drifted off to sleep with other members of the family under the Acacia tree and woke to find myself covered with a sheet to keep the mosquitoes off and being offered a shot glass of hot, strong and sweet green tea.
Drumming update. I now own a drum - a 7kg “Toungouné” TamTam and plan to carry it on as hand baggage back to Malawi - think it may have to stay in Malawi until February as I won’t really be able to carry it around Tanzania and Kenya. Think my neighbours in London would prefer it if I leave it there. I finally got to play in public last night with Ousmane’s group as they welcomed a delegation of 35 French visitors from Foundiougne’s twin town near Bordeaux.
Their arrival marked the “official” start of the tourist season and it feels kind of appropriate that I’m leaving tomorrow just as the tourists start to arrive - the people of Foundiougne have largely treated me as just another member of the town and I’ve only been on the receiving end of one attempted scam (failed
Oh my gourd !
The "batteurs" are accompanied by these woman tapping out the off-beats using shotgun cartridges on huge hollowed out gourds.
attempt to extract about 15 quid from me for taking photos of the Lutte - good job I know the Master Drummer in town).
I will not miss the mosquitoes. With no rain for the past 2 weeks, it’s just the strong ones remaining - the ones who really are not put off by two layers of DEET, thick long socks and long trousers. I have a niggling feeling that they will be waiting for me in Malawi.
I will miss Jonas and the Mar family particularly, as well as Michel and NgaNga at the Auberge Sine Saloum.
Jonas detected that I needed cheering up on Sunday night so he handed me a beer, grabbed my i-Pod, connected it to his huge speakers and blasted out my “top rated” playlist. The beer kicked in, I remembered the new wireless mics and pretty soon we had ourselves a Crown & Cushion Karaoke session complete with Frank Sinatra, Divine Comedy and even Outkast during the intervals.
Last night was my leaving party and Demba (one of the group I’ve been working with) cooked up a fantastic “Poisson Pharci” for 15 of us. They made me give a speech
Les batteurs d'Ousmane
8 Tam Tams and lots of energy. This was just before I got put into the hot seat and played with them for about 15 minutes.
and then forced me to dance like a lunatic - long overdue. They taught me how to dance the mbalax and improve my sabar - you’ll have to wait until February to see that unless I can upload the video.
Some random photos from my time in Foundiougne.
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