The Sing Sing Family Returns to Suffolk University

October 19, 2009

The famous Sing Sing family from Dakar, Senegal will be in residence at Suffolk University this fall as Distinguished Visiting Scholars. Led by Moustapha Faye and Aziz Faye who are accompanied by their nephew Malick Ngom and their niece Jolie Mboup the family members will teach classes and give presentations on the sabar drum and dance traditions.

Moustapha Faye, Aziz Faye, Malick Ngom and Jolie Mboup are members of one of the most significant griot families in the country of Senegal in West Africa. Known as the Sing Sing family, they are descendants of Biram Gueye Faye, who, in the position of Baj Géwël of Dakar (or Chief Géwël of Dakar) had the responsibility for the cultural, historical and spiritual traditions and practices of the Cap Vert peninsula where Dakar, the present capital of Senegal, is located. The present Baj Géwël of Dakar, Vieux Sing Faye, is the father of Moustapha and Aziz, and the grandfather of Malick and Jolie.

The invited participants for this residency are members of the Faye family, who are all géwëls. Vieux Sing Faye, the patriarch of the Faye family, has the title of Baj Géwël Ndakarou, or Chief Géwël of Dakar, Senegal. In Senegalese culture the géwël, sometimes referred to as griot, serves many roles. As historian, genealogist, musician, and preserver of cultural traditions the géwël is an essential part of every major ceremony and festival in Senegal.

Most people are familiar with the sabar tradition through the popular music and dance styles of Senegal. It is an essential part of these traditions. However, the music and dance are connected to the deep roots of history and tradition. Today most people who study the music and dance are unfamiliar with these deeper connections. The Faye family not only knows this tradition, but actively works to maintain it and pass it on through the generations. It is this deeper connection that distinguishes this family in Senegal.

This residency is designed to present and explore Senegalese Géwël traditions of oration, movement and sound, as well as the ways in which information is preserved and transmitted through these forms.

Their residency will be complemented by a series of lectures, presentations and films, including the premiere US screening of Kaay Fi by Zapo Bablé of Paris, France and the US of Kaay Fi the Boston premier of Sabar, Life is a Dance.

During their time in the United States they are also representing The Géwël Tradition Project. Founded in 2005 by Moustapha Faye and Robert Sipho Faye Bellinger, the Géwël Tradition Project was developed to research, document and support the géwël tradition historically and presently. The three sections of the project intertwine with one another in much the same way that oration, music and dance do in the géwël tradition. The initiatives of the Géwël Tradition Project focus on the eldest generation who has the longest view of the tradition, and also the youngest who will make decisions about how to carry this tradition into the 21st century.

JPEGFaye Poster10.14

The Géwël Tradition Blog will be keeping you updated about the activities and events that take place during this residency so that those who are unable to attend can have a sense of this wonderful learning opportunity.

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