Xali Nungi Fecc
August 2, 2011
It is summer in Dakar. The daytime temperatures are between 80 and 86 degrees fahrenheit though it usually feels much hotter. It is during these warmer months that the schools close and the school aged young folks are enjoying the freedom that the “vacance” or vacation brings. With this free time, between the end of school in early July and the coming of rain in early August, young people take part in sabar related activities. Young people will take any opportunity to express themselves through the dance movements of sabar, and any time drums are played on a summer afternoon, one will find young people dancing. But more often than not the dancing will be done in the setting of an organized event.
In the late afternoon, between 5:00 and 8:00 pm, on most weekends it is common to hear the rhythms of the sabar drums resounding in the air. If you follow the sound of the drums to its source you will find a sabar bëccëg, or an afternoon sabar party taking place. While the late night sabar parties or tànnibéer’s attract young adults the sabar bëccëg is usually for young girls who range in age from perhaps as old as 15 to as young as 3 years old. Just as at a late night sabar party you will see all of the invited guests seated in the chairs that form the géw or circle, dressed in tailored dresses that reach the ankles, hair carefully coiffed and maquillage (make-up) on their faces. The hosts will be identifiable by their matching outfits and their prominent position in the circle. The central ring of chairs will be surrounded by friends, relatives, community members and interested onlookers of all ages.
As the drummers play the rhythms of the sabar repertoire the young girls will enter the circle to dance either singly or with some of their friends. The girls take this opportunity to showcase their dance skills and abilities to their friends and the larger community. It is also an opportunity for them to do the new dances of the season to the accompanying bakks that the drummers will play. While the afternoon sabar parties are organized for young girls, young boys also dance sabar though rarely in these settings.
These celebrations of the afternoon sabar party has been halted early this year with the start of Ramadan, but the photos that follow are a reflection of the joy of summer in Dakar.
1.The sabar bëccëg is also known as a sabar takkusan. Bëccëg translates to daytime while takkusan refers specifically to the time of late afternoon prayer.
2. Bakks are musical compositions that can sometimes be musical versions of proverbs or linguistic phrases. When a bakk is played the various musical phrases are expressed in movements by those dancing to it.