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Africa Travel To Senegal Four Weeks Immersed in Creativity

Senegal - Artistic expressions

Nanga def, (‘hello, how are you’ in Wolof… and, also the name given to a rather yummy cocktail!).
Four weeks in Dakar have come and gone leaving in their wake a kaleidoscope of sights, sounds and colours. My time Dakar was amazing, surpassing my expectations. There are times when some things are just meant to be, when everything just comes together; I felt that during my time in Senegal. I went to Senegal with no real plan of what I was going to do, having deliberately chosen to adopt a-wait-till-I-get-there approach. Unbeknownst to me at the time of planning, my trip coincided with the Dak’Art 2012 Biennale, which quickly formed the framework to my days, as the city was taken over by exhibition openings, performances, and discussions centred on art and design.
[Image credits: clockwise from top left; Fishing Boats via Senegal.co.uk
Obstacle Serge Alain Nitegeka, Installation at l’Institut Français © Tapiwa; 
The Millennium Door Statue © Tapiwa, Ocean View © Tapiwa; 
Sous Verre Paintings via Le Pays De la Teranga; and Baobab Treetop © Tapiwa]

Nanga def, (‘hello, how are you’ in Wolof… and, also the name given to a rather yummy cocktail!).
Four weeks in Dakar have come and gone leaving in their wake a kaleidoscope of sights, sounds and colours. My time Dakar was amazing, surpassing my expectations. There are times when some things are just meant to be, when everything just comes together; I felt that during my time in Senegal. I went to Senegal with no real plan of what I was going to do, having deliberately chosen to adopt a-wait-till-I-get-there approach. Unbeknownst to me at the time of planning, my trip coincided with the Dak’Art 2012 Biennale, which quickly formed the framework to my days, as the city was taken over by exhibition openings, performances, and discussions centred on art and design. Although I knew about the Biennale I hadn’t thought to check when the next one was being held, so it was a pleasant surprise, and I could not have planned it better; a whole month indulging in art, design and creativity in deliciously hot sunshine. And indulge I did… by the end of my holiday I was mentally exhausted, my mind saturated and trying to process all I had seen and done… and above all I came away fulfilled. My research had revealed Dakar to be a highly creative and cultural city, but to step into the midst of it whilst a month-long celebration was happening was something else.Amongst the littered and dusty landscape beats the rhythmic pulse of a vibrant, energetic city going about it days; it wasn’t brash, more like a continuous hum heard through voices blending in with traffic drifting up to shady balconies, and through open windows, backed by the steady beat of construction work in shaping new silhouettes across the city. I met artists, some of whom I’ve featured, others I had on my list waiting to be posted, and yet others who will now be added. I visited exhibitions and attended openings; some good, some not so good; some planned, others I just happened to stumble upon following the sounds of enticing music drifting in the air. I sought refuge from the heat in airy cool gallery spaces, such as the Raw Material Company and Biscuiterie de Medina. I peeked into open-air workshops to watch artisans at work, carving objects or recycling metals; and wandered round the studios of artists at Village des Arts de Dakar, near the airport.

I engaged in lively dialogue, challenged my perceptions and conquered my fears. I had the pleasure of meeting with several readers of African Daydreams who took me to their favourite places in the city; introduced me to renowned local artists such as textile artist Aissa Dione Tissus; and toured art collections like the contemporary pieces from local artists that can be seen displayed throughout the sophisticated interior of the Radisson Blu; which I was told was designed by South African architectural practice, Stefan Antoni  Olmesdahl Truen – SAOTA, previously featured on African Daydreams. I saw and interacted with products I have featured on African Daydreams; including the innovative stools and tables by Bibi Seck. I sifted my way through colorful fabrics, jewellery and basketry as I ‘discovered’ local arts and crafts geared towards the tourist market; taking a particular delight in the colourful kitsch ‘sous verre’ glass paintings that ranged from contemporary illustrations to simplistic stylised renderings of Senegalese people and everyday life; and was overwhelmed by way too much samey-samey objects like the skillfully carved wood carvings lining the streets and gracing the stalls.
I thought I knew what an ‘African’ market was like until came face-to-face with Sandaga; Zimbabwean markets are tame in comparison! Wow it was an experience, overwhelming… once was enough and I opted for the more smaller, quieter markets where I could practice my bargaining skills! A generalisation, the Senegalese marketeers know how to sell and can talk the talk! Away from Dakar, took the ferry to the beautiful, yet poignant Goree Island which invoked a period of quiet reflection; and spent another day strolling the beaches of Saly.
Add good food, creamy cocktails and being serenaded by the sounds of waves crashing along to the shore, I could spend all day trying to capture the essence of my experiences. For someone who doesn’t speak French or Wolof I didn’t do too badly methinks. I got to know Dakar well, but I couldn’t have done it on my own. Thank you, I am truly grateful to everyone who looked after me, translated for me, gave of their time to take me out and about or simply offered advice. PS: if you are reading this and wondering if that includes you; yes it does!

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