It had been five years since we saw each other, now we are face to face on zoom. Mané is one of the outstanding dancers of the Xalaas, the band i filmed during my Senegal trip, she now holds a six months old Ibrahim on her lap, her husband Xoro next to her. She wears a loose red scarf, I a red necklace.
I feel myself leaning into the screen, in an effort to be closer. We all speak french, it is neither of us first language. Many variations on pronunciation. I seek to bridge our worlds, the American goal oriented society I live in and the Senegalese world that moves with fluidity, less dictated by the clock. Mané sits in the center, framed by my camera man whose studio we are in and her husband, but it is not easy to reach her. The men are quicker in their response, more used to talking to white folks… i now remember how hard it was to get to the women.
It also becomes apparent that the Sabar I learned in my research is vaguely similar to the sabar they have in their bones. Details. I quickly learn not to insist.
Lost in translation is a real thing, flexibility and humor are a way. My Senegalese friends, the family M’Baye, used to call me “la grande dame” - I better live up to it!
During my stay, i dreamed of the true grande dame, Jacqueline Kennedy, with all her hair cut off, i probably did have some fears about being in M’Bour, surrounded by many men, day and night.