Jamma Rek!

Version 2As the 2013 door is gently closing and the 2014 window is impatiently waiting to be opened, I wish you all a peaceful and safe Christmas season. A Christmas in Dakar is like a Melbourne Christmas… Despite the freshness of the African winter, the sun is still high and the air is warm and gentle. The celebrations will take place outside, near a beach and under the palm trees. Tolerance and peace will be two pillars of the notorious Senegalese wisdom.

2013 will have been a year of changes and renewal for myself and for my family. I suppose moving again to Africa is allowing me to discover and embrace aspects of my life that I have neglected for many years. So far Africa gave me more than I have offered to it. I hope 2014 will provide me the opportunities to give back to a country and region which I already love so much.

Suspended Words has been one of my many joys of 2013 and I thank you for following and supporting my attempt to find the right words and capture honest photographies. A comment and a “like” have so much impact for me. I have always need encouragements and honest feedback to allow me to grow in my life. I sincerely thank you for nurturing my new passion.

Have a wonderful new year, full of hope, love, good health and successes.

Jamma Rek means Peace only in Wolof

#dakarproject

#dakarproject - Le vieux

#dakarproject – Le vieux

Photo 005 – Le vieux

I live in the street Felix Houphouet-Boigny in Dakar. The name was very familiar but I had to google it to appreciate the fact that I was residing under the good omen of a great African leader. He was “le vieux” (the old one) or papa Houphouet for the Ivorians. Like many interesting leader, he was not the product of a party system instead he was a doctor, an administrator, a unionist and ultimately, a politician…He was elected as a parliamentarian in France and became the principal enabler of the French decolonisation in Africa. He was a moderate leader who led the economical rise and influence of the Ivory Coast.

You cannot be an African leader without being part of few coups d’Etat and he was in 1966 and 1977 in Burkina Faso. He was a fervent anti-communist when Africa was seduced by Moscow and inspired by Cuba. The West liked him and his nickname was the “sage of Africa”. So wise, that the UNESCO created a Peace prize in his homage.

Africa has a rich history. The question is what the continuity of this history will look like at the dawn of the 21st century. I am wondering if during my chapter of life in this continent, I will witness the coming of a new generation of enlightened African leaders…

Mandela said during his inaugural address in 1994, “Our single most important challenge is therefore to help establish a social order in which the freedom of the individual will truly mean the freedom of the individual. We must construct that people-centred society of freedom in such a manner that it guarantees the political liberties and the human rights of all our citizens.

Where are the “papa Houphouet” and the Madiba of the future? I am sure that many Africans are asking themselves the same question.

#dakarproject

Photo 003 - Untitled

Photo 003 – Untitled

I have a lot of admiration for people who are able to nurture their passion for an entire life. I respect and envy the consistency of their love and dedication. My new friend is not the richest but he collects paintings and sculptures from various parts of West Africa with consistency and with a compromising ability to persuade his wife to allow him to do so. He doesn’t make big declaration on why he loves a piece instead it is about emotions usually a first impression. It is as simple as this. When I saw this piece earlier today, I felt very jealous because I will not see it every day… It talked to me vividly and I don’t have the ability to capture my sentiments for it with words. Why should I anyway?

#dakarproject

#dakarproject - Dakar design
#dakarproject – Dakar design

Photo 002

I studied Arts in France. I was able to enjoy indigenous and modern art in Australia with even a little bit of capacity to own some. However, I was not expecting to witness the expression of a vibrant artistic community in Dakar. I was wrong and happy of it.

My friends love design and Art. Experiencing rich of flavours, beautiful and healthy African food in a perfectly designed home was not like any ordinary Saturday. Next discovery: few Senegalese Art Galleries…

#dakarproject

#dakarproject
#dakarproject

The #dakarproject is not a new idea, it has been done before: capturing 365 photos over a year. Each photo will have a background story as part of my daily life in Dakar, Senegal. I hope that this personal project will provide you with the desire to know more about Africa or for some of you to love Africa even more.

Photo 001: The heart of Africa.

In Dakar, I don’t have a car. Everyday, I meet a new taxi driver. Some of them are quiet, others are very chatty. This morning, the young driver was silent. It was an early start of the day, I was tired myself. The silence was comforting for both of us.

The “heart of Africa” was suspended on the inside mirror. The heart is a cheap tourist memorabilia but I liked it and it amused me, moving around after each bump or hole on the road (you can have many of them in the rugged streets of the city). The driver saw me looking at it and he gently said “Do you like Africa?”, I looked at him and carefully replied in French “yes I do…very much so”. He didn’t respond and drove me to my destination in silence.