I wake around 10.30am. Or perhaps it’s 9.30, or even 11.30. I’m not too sure - it all depends on which piece of technology I want to believe. In any case, there’s not much sign of activity from anyone else, so it doesn’t much matter. I help myself to Nescafe and instinctively put a lump of sugar in - for some reason I always do this in Africa.
I wander downstairs to the offices and meet Ngnima, who has just arrived from Paris. Ngnima is the other principal Senegalese artist in this residency - a writer, slam poet and rapper - much travelled and currently living in Paris. Unfortunately her luggage got diverted at Algiers airport and didn’t make it to Dakar. Ngnima is trying not to stress, but at best it will take a couple of days for the suitcase to be located and re-routed.
So what are we all doing here? Ousmane Faye, the director of La Factory, has brought together a group of artists - singers, musicians, photographers, writers and film-makers for the first phase in a new project to support the artistic development of young women artists in Senegal.
This first stage focuses on the story of two young Senegalese women - Mamy and Ngnima - both passionate about music and performance, both bringing very different life experiences and musical traditions to their work. Mamy comes from a ‘Griot’ family of singers and musicians and is steeped in traditional music and culture. Ngnima, on the other hand, came to performance later - using poetry and language as a way of expressing her understanding of the world.
A recording of new songs is at the heart of the residency, but the overall aim is for the artists present to explore their own visual, musical or literary narrative, sharing ideas and creating a multi-textured, multi-dimensional piece of work that reflects Mamy and Ngnima’s stories. After two weeks at La Factory we’re all heading out of Dakar to spend some time in Mamy and Ngnima’s family villages.
The first recording session has barely got underway when the power goes out. There’s no generator at La Factory yet, so to diffuse the situation we decide to take a walk to the beach before the light fades and to take the first pictures of Mamy and Ngnima.
Back in the studio later that evening, Herve, the producer, encourages Mamy and Ngnima through one of the tracks. Ngnima’s fast-paced and slickly delivered words weave a thread of urgency through Mamy’s rich melodies. I will need to ask Ngnima to translate the text which is a mixture of Wolof, French and English. I love Herve’s words of encouragement to Mamy and Ngnima at the end of a take - “Très nice!” Or in Wolof - “Nice na” (That’s nice).