Photos from the Archives

March 29, 2016

Sabar, is and has been the heartbeat of Senegal. And it is the géwël who has kept this heart beating. They have done this in settings both traditional and modern, ceremonial and social, in Senegal and throughout the world. These photos from the Géwël Tradition Project archives illustrate some of these uses. The photos presented range from the 1960s to 2002, so they each have a historic dimension as well. I want to take a moment to pay respect and homage to those in these photos who have transitioned; they live on in our collective memories which these photos are part of.

CELEBRATIONS

Tannibers, or sabar dance parties are a community celebration that gives members of the community an opportunity to dance to the sabar drums. And when the drums call, you never know who will answer.

Tanniber Ouakam

National Ballet of Senegal dancers do a routine at Tanniber in Ouakam, 2002

Tanniber in Ouakam, 2002

Moustapha Faye plays for tanniber in Ouakam, 2002

Sometimes at events an elder in attendance will feel like playing. These are indeed special moments and as they fill the air with their music the dancers take flight.

Vieux Sing Faye, on cól and Moustapha Faye, on under play for tanniber in Ouakam, with Ousman Guey on mbëngmbëng, 2002

Vieux Sing Faye, on cól and Moustapha Faye, on nder play for tanniber in Ouakam, with Ousman Gueye on mbëngmbëng, 2002

Doudou Ndiaye Rose playing at a tanniber in Centenaire, Dakar, Senegal,2002

Doudou Ndiaye Rose playing at a tanniber in Centenaire, Dakar, Senegal,2002

Following independence in 1960, Senegal created a National Dance Company to promote Senegal and share its culture throughout the world.  It was through géwël families that sabar was brought into the National ballet and thus first introduced to the world.

National Ballet of Senegal at the Strand Theater, Boston, MA, 1980s

National Ballet of Senegal at the Strand Theater, Boston, MA, 1980s

While drumming is usually done by men, women have, and do, play sabar drums.

Young woman playing mbëngmbëng

Young woman playing mbëngmbëng, Senegal, 1985

In addition to sabar parties géwëls are often invited to play at all kinds of social events.

Idrissa Mbaye playing for a party in Dakar, Senegal, 1990

Idrissa Mbaye playing for a party in Dakar, Senegal, 1990

Géwëls have also taken sabar and Senegalese rhythms into contemporary settings, performing with a wide range of musical genres.

Moustapha Faye playing jembe with the Steve Coleman Group, St. Louis Jazz Festival, 2001

Moustapha Faye playing jembe with the Steve Coleman Group, St. Louis Jazz Festival, 2001

But first and foremost, sabar is and has been the heart beat of Senegal. This final photo is a classic and a tribute to the memory of Sing Sing Faye, Baj Géwël Ndakarou.

Vieux Sing Faye and his group playing in Dakar Senegal, 1960s

Vieux Sing Faye and his group playing in Dakar Senegal, 1960s

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