So after my research, I settled on the idea of making a piece that linked to where my mum is from, N’dar (Wolof name)/Saint Louis (French name) in Senegal.
Whilst I initially wanted to make work about the cultural hybridity I have experienced as I’ve grown up in different countries around the world, I found it difficult to figure out how to convey my personal relationship to different cultures in a piece that was impactful and found myself more drawn to creating a connection with where my family is from there as I’ve never lived there.
Through my research, I found that the history of Saint Louis in itself carries this hybridity with European culture anyways, as not only a colonial town but the first town colonised by the French in Senegal. The history is still very prevalent in the town’s architecture and culture.
The fishermen are an integral part of the town of the culture and economy of Saint Louis as well as an important part of my family history. A story I was drawn to in my research was the one of Mame Coumba Bang. My mother told me about this growing up and it is about a spirit/goddess in the river that connects to the sea around N’dar. The local community believe that she is a protective power in the town and that she keeps not only the town safe but also the fishermen when they go on their excursions. In order for her to keep the N’dar safe, there is an important tradition of giving her an offering.
Aside from my mother and the help of other family members, I found this really informative article about the role of Mame Coumba Bang in the local community: https://digitalcollections.sit.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1127&context=isp_collection