Ngnima still doesn’t have her suitcase, but she seems able to maintain her stylish yet effortless look just with a few strategic pins and tucks of a t-shirt and a colourful cotton scarf. An enviable skill.
Both Mamy and Ngnima have an instinctively playful side to their personalities, although at first glance, Mamy is more serious, and has a quiet wisdom about her, despite the fact that she’s a few years younger than Ngnima. Ngnima is spontaneous and engaging, whereas Mamy’s character emerges as she tells stories, holding her audience with theatrical flair.
Late in the afternoon we decide to take Mamy and Ngnima out of the studio environment and away from La Factory for a couple of hours, so we ask Alioune to drive us along the sandy road that runs parallel to the sea.
Mamy spots a group of drummers on the beach and asks Alioune to stop the car.
“I’d like to dance”, she says. And instantly, we see a different, more flamboyant Mamy.
Daliso is sure there’s a hotel nearby with a terrace that serves beer. We find a place on the sea front - just beyond the mosque. We seem to be the only customers and we persuade the restaurant staff to set up a table for us outside, rather than under the orange plastic awning attached to the front of the hotel. We’ve been sitting there for at least 40 minutes, and no one pays us the slightest attention, so I go in and ask the young woman for a drinks menu. She looks vaguely surprised at my presence. The first disappointment is that they don’t sell alcohol. There’s actually very little choice, so I finally settle on 3 pineapple juices and a tea, and return to our table and the conversation between Mamy and Ngnima.
They talk about how they both came to be involved in this residency - it was Ousmane, the director of La Factory, who convinced them both as artists he trusted and admired to come and work together on the project.
Mamy talks about the importance of people knowing their history - and understanding where they come from.
“The Griot tradition is on my mother’s side of the family and I inherited my love of music from my grandmother who raised me”.
She looks at life wisely, reflecting with great insight on the different phases of life, and stressing the importance of the opportunities of ‘now’. She acknowledges that Ngnima has a very different set of life experiences and priorities, but that this doesn’t affect how they work together musically.
Ngnima explains that her life is in France currently, having moved there to continue her studies in 2000.
“Life is like that. It doesn’t mean I’ll stay there forever, but I don’t have a life in Senegal anymore. This project is an opportunity for me to build something here musically. This is what I want to do - to live as an artist”.
“I can’t imagine doing anything other than singing for a living”, Mamy says.
When the drinks finally arrive, about 20 minutes later, we all fall about laughing - on the tray are three 1-litre cartons of pineapple juice - and no tea.