Thursday, July 1, 2010

Boston - Day 1

In the evening after our meetings and dinner, Lamine Toure and his Senegalese drumming group played for us. Lamine taught us to sing (I know what you're thinking!!), clap, and dance. He told us stories of his grandmother and mother who are griots, or history keepers, storytellers, if you will. Lamine is in the red tunic. I will try to link a video here, but it's getting late (11:08 Boston time) and the video is still trying to upload. Perhaps tomorrow.

Whew! The travel day started yesterday at 5:00 p.m. Twenty-two hours later, I have arrived in Boston. You all know about airport layovers and lengthy plane rides, so no need to go into detail. I unpacked but ended up being late for my first meeting. Augh! I think it's rude when people are late, but I was the one who walked in after the program started this time. The desk clerk hadn't given me the note about the location of our meeting, so I went looking and found that I had to walk several blocks to the Boston University African Studies Center. I commit to never being late again during this entire month-long trip.

We began with introductions, which took awhile. We're all teachers, so if given a speaking forum... It was good, though, to hear what each teacher's background and goals are for this trip. In future posts, you will learn more about them as I do. We then learned some Wolof greetings. I can break it down to four for now:

"Salaamalekum" (literally - Peace to Allah - but kind of like "hello").
Respond, "Maalekum Salaam".

"Na nga def?" (How are you?)
Respond - "Maa ngi fi rek." (Fine)

Here's a bonus phrase. "Wow, wow" turns out to mean "Yes, of course." or you say it to encourage a dancer or a band. Practice, "Wow, wow."

We then went over logistics and had a wonderful Cuban dinner. It included chicken, plantains, rice with wonderful sauces, olives, and fruit. I don't know what each dish was called, but there wasn't anything that I didn't love. Following dinner, Lamine Toure, a Senegalese drummer, performed with his band. Check out his website, The drums each have their own names, but as a group you call them sabar. He says we'll see them a lot in Senegal. In modern times, they are played at celebrations because they produce a happy vibe. In the past, though, they were used as a communication tool. One group of people could send messages of eminent attack to another, or they may be used to encourage the troops. Today, in wrestling contests, each wrestler has his own rhythm played on the drums to "psych him up" for the contest. The contest may only last ten seconds, but the preliminary drumming could last an hour.
Check out this video of Lamine's workshop:

Guess what I can see right across the street and out my hotel window. Fenway Park!!! I'll be done with my itinerary tomorrow by around six. The game starts at 7:30. Hmmm.


  1. So cool! Sounds like an awesome start! :)

  2. Sounds exciting all ready. Have a safe trip to Africa.