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I met Ngnima Sarr on an artistic residency at La Factory, a small cultural centre and production house in Dakar, Senegal. Singers, musicians, photographers, writers and film-makers – we had all been brought together for the first phase of a new project to support young women artists in Senegal. This first stage of the residency focused on two young Senegalese women – Mamy Kanouté and Ngnima Sarr – both passionate about music and performance, both bringing very different life experiences and musical traditions to their work.
A recording of new songs was at the heart of the residency, but we were all free to explore our own visual, musical or literary narratives, to share ideas and to create a multi-textured piece of work that reflected Mamy and Ngnima’s stories.
Ngnima is a writer, a visual artist, a singer, an activist. In the studio, her fast-paced and slickly delivered texts in a mixture of Wolof, French and English wove a thread of urgency through Mamy’s rich melodies. Ngnima currently lives in France, but was keen to re-connect with Dakar both artistically and emotionally. We asked her to show us the Dakar she grew up in – the family home at the old Barracks, her secret hideway, her favourite beach. We accompanied her to the mystical island of Niodior, where she also spent much of her childhood, and met other members of her family. Early in the morning, late at night, we walked, talked and laughed.