November 30, 2008

Sing Sing at Suffolk

Sing Sing Visits Boston, MA

This past April (2008), the Géwël Tradition Project had a great success as Suffolk University’s Distinguished Visiting Scholars Program hosted three generations of the Faye family: Vieux Sing Faye, the Baj Géwël of Dakar, his sons Moustapha and Aziz Faye, and his grandson Malik Ngom.

It should be noted that Moustapha, Malick and other members of the family first taught at the Suffolk University campus in Dakar, Senegal in 2001. Their visit to Boston is the result of this long relationship between the Suffolk University Black Studies program and the Sing Sing family.

Their participation in the Distinguished Visiting Scholars Program is a testament to the significance of the géwël tradition; it also gives recognition to the intellectual basis of this African cultural tradition. During their visit the Suffolk University community was informed and educated about the Géwël tradition in Senegal through a variety of programs and presentations. What follows is a brief description of the various programs. More about the Boston visit will be added in the coming weeks.


They gave two formal presentations to the university community. In each they explained the different drums used in sabar and played drum rhythms from the sabar repertoire. They demonstrated the relationship between language and the rhythms with bakks or musical compositions. They also presented, dances and the relationship between the dance movements and the drum rhythms.

Both presentations were enhanced by the presence of Senegalese student’s whose verbal and kinetic responses further demonstrated the connections presented by the géwël visiting scholars.

Presentation of sabar technique at Suffolk

Aziz and Lamine Diallo explaining the sabar drum

Visits to classes

They were able to visit classes. They made two visits to BLKST263 – Sabar: The Music and Dance of Sengeal. Taught by Lamine Touré, a member of a géwël family in Kaolack, this class was natural fit. Their first visit was during a regular class meeting where the students worked on the dances learned during the semester. Their second visit was during A Celebration of Senegal, the final meeting of the class.


The main event of their visit was their performance in the C. Walsh Theater. This performance presented the rhythms and dances of the Sing Sing sabar tradition.

Aziz Faye demonstrates a dance

Teaching Workshops

The family spent a day at the Young Achievers, a charter school in Jamaica Plain, MA. They gave the students dance and drum workshops, and at the end of the day those students joined the Fayes to perform what they learned to the rest of the school.

Aziz teaches at Young Achievers

Aziz, Malick and Moustapha with student

Community classes

The Faye family also taught a series of dance and drum classes for members of the Boston/Cambridge drum and dance community. They were well attended and well received.

Moustapha Faye plays for dance class

Moustapha and Aziz demonstrate sabar verite

Molustapha Faye teaches a drum class

There will be a fuller photo essay of this historic visit soon.


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