The third edition of the festival "Memory of the Penc and villages of Dakar" was held July 17, 2012 at the Grand Theater in Dakar. Penc denotes a place under the traditonal meeting tree. Mundus maris was officially invited and represented by Aliou Sall, Vice-President and met the organiser, multi-talent Mamadou Ndiaye "THIA".

The three slogans of the festival were

(i) For the appreciation of Lebou cultural heritage;
(ii) The consolidation of ties of understanding and solidarity of the Lebou family; and
(iii) The cultural renaissance of Senegal and Africa.



This festival took place under the sponsorship of Lebou Dignitaries and Notables. The programme had several components: (i) exhibitions through the ages; (ii) speeches and statements by intellectuals, but also popular speakers as well as traditional leaders, and (iii) cultural activities.

The participation of the following iconic figures of the Lebou community was noted:

  • the old drum major Old Seng Faye,
  • the female singers Dème Kayahara, Astou Ndoye and Mbaya Mbongue,
  • the male singers Ndiouga Dieng, Barham Ciss and Tamsir Fall,
  • wrestling champion Mame Gorgui Ndiaye,
  • the griot panegyrist Moustapha Dieng,
  • Thiossane dance troups Maggy Demb from Yoff,
  • Saf Niep from Ouakam and Deggo from Ngor, and finally
  • musicians Souleymane Faye, Makhou Lébougui, Gorgui Ndiaye, Pape Fall and Shula Ndiaye.

Mamadou Ndiaye, called "THIA", is a Senegalese artist, working with Mundus maris since about three years in the projects implemented in Senegal. He already has a long career behind him, working in the most diverse genera. A constant was his proximity to social issues. In 2010, we published a short profile on key steps of his career: click here.

His exhibition at FESPENC was focused on the theme of the relationship between the Lebous and the Sea. THIA expresses this in particular through the centrality of the pirogue in the relationship with the sea and the importance of finding a balance between tradition and modernity.

These topics are addressed in the different works shown. We mention just three, namely,

THE PIROGUE, an installation on the basis of recovered materials including an old canoe of maximum three meters, traditionally used in the daytime inshore fishery (using lines with set nets as gears).

SENTINEL is a painting that exhorts traditional practices with protective effect onnature, while the painting.

NDOEP represents a session of Ndoep by the priestess mother Adja Ndatté: it is a therapeutic session during which the priestess must release the evil spirit possessing those, who are mentally ill.

At the end of our visit of THIA's exhibition, he has granted us the following interview.

MM - Q: Mr Mamadou Ndiaye, you who are better known by your stage name THIA. You have a long career under your belt. Its artistic and social thread has been your social commitment to the marginalised, be they street children, who you have trained in practical trades and arts, or be they other social problems you addressed in your art. Today, you are exhibiting about fisheries. What interested you about the problem of fishing?

A: First, know that I am at home in this environment as my parents are Nyominkas, that is one of three traditional fishing communities in Senegal. And as you know, even beyond fishing, the Nyominkas are people of the water simply because they have a mastery of the sea and the river, for those who have an idea about the location of Saloum Islands. That said, you still have to say that my contact with Mundus maris awakened in me a few things, I had internalised and which became obvious to me as a person with a background from the world of fishing and from the people of the water more generally. In fact, my association with Mundus maris during the past three years has convinced me to invest myself more on pieces of art devoted to the theme of the Sea and the symbolism associated with the Sea.

This collaboration with Mundus maris was extremely useful that it has resulted in the progressive realisation of a few paintings dealing exclusively with issues related to fishing, some other pieces, which deal specifically with the symbolism and imagination, which pervades the relationship of coastal communities with the sea. The paintings that you saw are the result of this collaboration with Mundus maris, which was a favorable factor for the emergence of some ideas I still mulling insofar as I said; I'm always inspired by the sea because it is my natural environment.

MM - Q: What is the key message of your last show?

A: My last show – that is the one you just visited - focuses on the Sea. As you observed, I wanted to integrate the two dimensions, the environmental and cultural one. Indeed, another approach has brought me since some time closer to Greenpeace, which has provided me with support in the preparation of this exhibition. It is clear that Greenpeace as an organisation has built up a good reputation through its important advocacy work in favour of nature. This is why we can not go to this exhibition without being attracted by the part about negative impacts of some prohibited fishing gear, such as monofilament nylon nets.

Indeed as an artist and consequently as a person with this role of opinion leaders, I can not miss the opportunity given by this festival, to give a strong signal about the effect of prohibited fishing gear on marine ecosystems. I wanted to send a strong message on some poor fishing practices and their consequences. I also wanted to refresh the memory of the people about the following fact: "the predatory attitude of today's resource users. They are without any respect towards nature, let alone any concern for the future. This has nothing to do with the behaviour of our ancestors."

On some of my paintings such as the Sentinel, I show how access to nursery areas as well as the practice of fishing during breeding seasons were regulated by the community through considered and chosen custodians - families with some specialized knowledge that gave them this title.

This was true for the family Diop in Yoff, which was the guardian, or if you wish, the Sentinel, to breeding areas, for which it decreed the closure of access at the appropriate time. Here is what shows how I am in tune with Mundus maris: while promoting biodiversity, it also attaches importance not only to cultural diversity, but also to indigenous knowledge, some of which, if revalued, could contribute to a better resource management.

The different themes of my paintings, which you just saw, clearly illustrate the importance I attach to the cultural heritage of seafarers. At the same time, they reflect this close - unfortunately little known – relationship between tradition on the one hand and collective consciousness towards the environment on the other. This is true of my paintings with themes like

(i) Petition;

(ii) Consensus;

(iii) Sentinel;

(iv) Trades;

(v) Evolution

(vi) Freedom, and finally

(vii) the Ndoep with Priestess Adja Ndatté.

MM-Q: What are your future plans?

A: There are several projects on my mind. But for now, I am now preparing, in the short term, the international community festival in collaboration with the city of Dakar. As you know, this festival to be held in a few months, will be attended by different socio-cultural groups in the city of Dakar. We hope to see an active participation of Mundus maris, since you are represented in Senegal.

MM: THIA, thanks for the interview.

A: Thank you too.


Aliou Sall asked the questions for Mundus maris.