Thursday, December 30, 2010

Black World Arts and Culture Festival: FESMAN

FESMAN is winding to a close this week. It has certainly been an indescribable experience this month, especially living in what is called the Artist's Village. I love it here. It is a prototype of what paradise looks like--African people, who despite the absence of a common language interact on a deep soul level that is often beyond thought.

This afternoon my friend, Tracy and I picked up our passports for Mali and dropped by the film center located near the university and the mall--yes, there is a mall in Dakar frequented by the beautiful people--wealthy and so French, Africa is often an after taste.

That is one thing I have to say really put me off, is the Francophone nature of the Festival. All sessions were in French with not much translation, especially into English outside the academic forums. Programs, all signage and all announcements were in French--no explanations. Can you imagine sitting through a play where you miss all the jokes as the audience laughs?

Most of the countries presenting were Francopone too. Brazil had a strong presence too as did the American artists, although most were not women.

Today I went back to an art exhibit and saw Hank Willis's work on the walls. My goodness, Hank is everywhere. I was blown away by his pieces, one a striking work which looks like The Door of No Return in a bottle.

The Biscuiterie is a really cool venue. I did part of the art exhibit, my second time there. I missed the African dance classes today. I think it was South Africa or Cuba. I didn't get upstairs. I am going to try to get back early on January 1, so I can do the upstairs.

I lost my tape recorder with all my interviews from the first two weeks and then the next day I lost my FLIP camera. I lost those interviews as my computer is not compatible with the program. I also wasn't able to swing the visit to the women's prison, but I feel like I am getting closer for next time.

Everything here is double the price in the USA and most things are imported. I was looking at a photocard and it was $30 for 4 GB. I left it at the store. Perhaps I should have bought it.

I finally got by the architecture exhibit, which was coming down. I thought the architects had recreated the housing prototypes in actual size --CICES, the place where they were housed was large enough to have taken advantage of this opportunity to make the dwellings more inhabitable physically as well as philosophically.

There was a noticible absence of East Africa: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia. This is not to say individuals from these nations where not present, there was just not a noticible presence, except Ethiopia which was represented in a big way in the Lucy Exhibition at IFAN.

All the art catelogs, except one was in French. I would have been cool with African languages, but French is the language like that of English, German, Spanish, Portugese, Italian.

Even though this is a black festival, the invisible hand of Europe was certainly present. The president's kids are biracial so techically everything here is integrated, not that I don't admire President Wade. He is a brillant man. Now that the Festival is over I am seeing lots of white folks sort of coming out of the wood work.

Dakar is so Oakland, San Francisco, probably Paris and LA and certainly New York, and I'm not speaking Brooklyn or the Bronx, rather, Manhattan. But then when one drives or walks into the neighborhoods away from the beach front, she sees fishermen, market women, crippled people, single mothers, tattered children begging. One Senegalese woman told me with pride that she never gave money to beggers--this was at 11 PM at night. I don't think anyone sleeps in a parking lot with her baby behind a store because she wants to.

I met a lot of young people who only speak French and taxi drivers who say they speak French, but really just speak Wolof fluently. There is nothing worse or dangerous than a person who thinks they are bilingual when they are not (smile). One of the interviews I lost was with a young scientist who would answer my uestions in away that clearly indicated that the translator was misunderstanding the English (smile). But hey I was thankful. Me and my monolingual self.

No I don't think I am an elite because I live in America. I actually bought Rosetta Stone in Januaary and hired a private teacher this summer to learn French. She quit and kept my money. I wasn't disciplined enough for Rosetta Stone. So I plan to try again when I return, this time with UC Extension, which was my first course of action this summer, then I changed my mind.

The president made a point to state that Senegalese didn't have an inferiority complex and that white supremacy might have touched most of the African Diaspora, but not Senegal. What a contradiction. While stating this, Senegal had so many women apoloding Wade was there skin had aged prematurely from applications of bleaching cream.

Excuse the typos. The spell check is in French (smile).


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